The month-long lockdown in Sydney will be extended for at least another four weeks after Australian authorities failed to stop an outbreak of daily Covid-19 cases from reaching a new high on Wednesday. The lockdown in New South Wales has been extended until at least August 28, according to state Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Twelve new cases were reported in the local community on June 26, prompting the restrictions. According to her, the city’s outbreak has grown since then, fueled by the spread of the highly contagious delta variant, with 177 new cases reported on Wednesday.
Berejiklian announced that the city’s strictest lockdown restrictions, which are already in place in parts of southwest Sydney, will be expanded to other parts of the city’s west. In those areas, a vaccination campaign for high school students will be intensified. However, she made a concession to the economy by stating that construction work could resume in other parts of the city.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced more federal funding for smaller businesses impacted by the lockdown on Wednesday, up to A$100,000 ($74,000) per week, as well as increased welfare payments for lower-income workers who have lost wages, in an effort to relieve pressure on businesses and workers in New South Wales. His government now spends around A$750 million per week on assistance, he added.
‘We have to push through this lockdown in Sydney,’ Morrison told reporters in Canberra, adding that an increasing vaccination rate may mean that stay-at-home orders due to outbreaks won’t be needed by the end of the year. ‘There is no other shortcut, there is no other way through. We have to just hunker down.’
Some health experts and political rivals have criticized Berejiklian for being too slow to implement lockdown in the city of 6 million people in order to keep Australia’s most economically important state — responsible for about a third of national GDP — open for business.