NSW COVID cases not enough to spark snap Sydney lockdown, yet

Sydney appears set to head into the weekend without a COVID-19 lockdown, with health authorities confident they're tracing almost all cases associated with the most recent virus outbreak.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian did not mince her words yesterday when she described the past week as the "most serious moment for the state" since the pandemic began.

There have so far been 49 locally acquired COVID-19 cases in the state since a limousine driver tested positive last Wednesday, and more infections are expected to be announced at 11:00am today.

"We're dealing with a virus that is extremely contagious," Ms Berejiklian said.

"And we are also dealing with a situation where many people may be forced into isolation in the days ahead and where many people will be asked to follow the health advice in a more vigilant way that they have ever been asked during the course of the pandemic.

"We have the opportunity to do what New South Wales does best — come together and support one another, to take the health advice, but also to be extra cautious."

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said while other cities had used snap lockdowns as a chance to buy time for their contact tracing teams that was not necessary in her state right now.

"Three-day lockdowns don't work if you've got distributed disease," Dr Chant said.

At Sydney's mass vaccination hub yesterday, people waiting to get their first Pfizer jab were skeptical about the government's approach.

"I don't understand why Sydney doesn't go into lockdown as Melbourne has under very similar circumstances," one man said. 

"Well you've still got people ... movement, there's too much movement," another woman said.

The NSW government reintroduced a raft of social-distancing restrictions this week, including limiting the number of visitors in private homes to five people and mandating masks in several settings in Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and local government areas of Wollongong and Shellharbour.

However, pubs, restaurants, theatres and gyms remain open.

"Can I say … that since the pandemic has started, this is perhaps the scariest period that NSW is going through, and Dr Chant and I are equal view on that," Ms Berejiklian said yesterday.

While many Australian cities have been placed into snap lockdowns due to COVID-19 outbreaks, Sydneysiders have not had a shutdown imposed on them for over 12 months, with the exception of the northern beaches, which was the subject of a 151-case coronavirus cluster over Christmas.

While the Delta variant at the centre of Sydney's latest outbreak is highly infectious, Dr Chant remained confident her team was across all chains of transmission.

"We are not in that situation where we are not getting to people in terms of the contact tracing," Dr Chant said.

Sydney's tighter social distancing restrictions are set to remain in place until 12:01am on Thursday, July 1.


Photo file ABC News Captipn: Motorists were queued for hundreds of metres at a Bondi drive-in COVID-19 testing clinic