A sharp rise in the number of a new variant of Coronavirus has led the NSW Government to introduce a two-week lockdown for Greater Sydney and the surrounding areas of the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour that will halt all non-essential activities.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian gave just four hours-notice for the new lockdown as of 2pm yesterday (Saturday 26th June), ramping up the reintroduced anti-COVID measures that applied to parts on Sydney from Thursday.
Explaining that the Delta variant was proving far more contagious than earlier variants, Premier Berejiklian said the escalation was "putting everyone on notice", noting that “this (is) the scariest time since the pandemic started.”
While ‘COVIDSafe weddings can take place this weekend (they will be banned from Monday), restrictions include no more than five visitors in your home, seated hospitality, 50% capacity for outdoor events, indoor mask wearing and restrictions for funerals and weddings.
Theatres and sporting events
The lockdown ends a period of confusion for Sydney’s theatres, with uncertainty about whether audiences need to stay at home after seeing a show.
As of Friday, most theatres were operating at full capacity and were not enforcing mask wearing.
The Guardian Australia reported one theatre producer, who did not want to be named, as stating “audiences are scared … people were already asking for refunds or credit notes, now they don’t know if they need to stay at home after seeing a show or not. It’s chaos.”
Bondi Festival, which was cancelled last year and had already moved its 2021 opening by a week, will be forced to move it again.
Opera Australia paused its productions of Aida and Attila, which was cancelled just after opening last year.
As of Thursday, the Australian Mass Participation Sporting Events Alliance reported that The Sydney Morning Herald Health Marathon, scheduled to be held today (Sunday 27th June) had been cancelled.
Chris Jarvis, Regional Director for event organiser The IRONMAN Group Oceania advised “this is not the outcome anybody wanted, but ultimately, the health and well-being of athletes, volunteers, partners, community, and staff is the primary concern.”
As of today, Rugby Australia has advised that the first rugby Test between Australia and France on 7th July has been moved from the SCG to Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane to avoid the lockdown in Sydney. The French squad is midway through a two-week lockdown ahead of the three-Test series.
Impact across Australian and New Zealand
Outside of NSW, the last 24 hours have been marked by new Coronavirus and snap lockdown measures.
In the Northern Territory, Chief Minister Michael Gunner has introduced a snap 48-hour lockdown for Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield after four new cases were recorded in a 24-hour period.
The New Zealand Government has announced it will pause the travel bubble between all Australian states and territories for three days beginning from 8:30pm AEST last evening.
It said the decision followed updated public health advice regarding multiple cases and outbreaks across Australia in differing stages of containment.
Fans will be locked out of today’s AFL clash between the West Coast Eagles and Western Bulldogs at Perth’s Optus Stadium, with the game to go ahead at an empty venue.
WA’s health minister, Roger Cook, announced that late on Saturday night a woman who had travelled to Sydney had returned a positive result, sparking new restrictions on gatherings and forcing a highly anticipated AFL match between the West Coast Eagles and the Western Bulldogs to be played behind closed doors.
The restrictions were announced last night after a woman who had returned from Sydney visited a number of venues, saw clients and then developed symptoms a few days later and subsequently returned a positive Coronavirus test result.
Lower image: Empty streets around Sydney's City Recital Hall. Credit: City Recital Hall.
24th June 2021 - Rise COVID-19 cases see NSW Government announce mandatory mask-wearing in workplaces, at sporting events and in gym classes
23rd June 2021 - Crowds to return to Melbourne stadia as capacity limits removed for events and venues in Western Australia
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20th June 2021 - Vaccines to play a key role in leisure industry recovery
16th June 2021 - COVID-19 lockdown sees AFL move Melbourne fixtures to Tasmania
4th June 2021 - Return of international tours vital for Australia’s entertainment venues and promoters
2nd May 2021 - Coronavirus fears sees fans barred from AFL western derby at Perth’s Optus Stadium
29th April 2021 - COVID impact sees Rugby Australia reveal $27.1 million loss for 2020
23rd April 2021 - Perth’s snap three-day lockdown sees closure of aquatic centres, gyms and theatres while sport to proceed without fans
1st April 2021 - Queensland Government ends Brisbane’s lockdown but Easter tourism still impacted
20th March 2021 - AMPSEA heads to Canberra to present need for stimulus package for mass participation events
4th February 2021 - Gala celebration to mark reopening of restored Enmore Theatre
28th January 2021 - Frozen the Musical at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre a model for future global performances
3rd January 2021 - NSW Government introduces new restrictions as Coronavirus cases rise
16th December 2020 - Coronavirus halted booming year for Australia’s live music sector
3rd December 2020 - NSW Government announces ‘major easing’ of Coronavirus restrictions
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