The ACT has effectively shut its borders to metropolitan Sydney, with Canberrans being told not to travel into greater metropolitan Sydney for the foreseeable future.
The strengthened position comes after a further 22 cases were reported today in the Bondi cluster, and four local government areas have been put into lockdown.
From 4:00 pm today, residents of greater metropolitan Sydney will only be permitted to enter the Territory if they hold an exemption.
Returning ACT residents will be subject to stay-at-home requirements until at least 11:59 pm on Friday 2 July. They must travel directly to the residence where they will be staying and are only permitted to leave for essential reasons. People are also asked to limit their movements around the ACT and monitor for symptoms.
Those currently under stay-at-home orders will have these extended to the same date.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the growing list of exposure sites in Sydney necessitated a further response from the ACT.
He called it “the most concerning outbreak so far this calendar year with significant implications”. He said the combination of it being winter, and the slow rollout of the vaccination program, had combined to create a real risk for Canberrans.
“We urge Canberrans not to travel to Sydney and to tell our friends and family in Sydney to stay away from Canberra,” he said. Likewise, he urged people to reconsider the need to transit through Sydney.
While the Chief Minister said it was logistically impossible to shut the ACT’s border to NSW given there are over 60 entry points, he did not rule out compliance checks as were undertaken over the Christmas period.
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the ACT Government is relying on people continuing to do the right thing as they have been doing.
She said almost 2400 people are currently affected by stay-at-home restrictions, while another 13,500 people had completed the self-declaration form to say they had been in Greater Sydney.
She confirmed that the self-declaration form will be updated to reflect the changes coming into force this afternoon and that exemptions would only be given in extraordinary circumstances.
“If anybody has already completed the self-declaration form, but will enter after 4:00 pm this afternoon, if you are not an ACT resident, you must now seek an exemption,” she said.
Metropolitan Sydney excludes the regions of the Central Coast, Nepean, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour. However, anybody coming from these areas is still required to fill in a self-declaration form.
Some 260 Canberrans will be able to leave isolation today after ACT Health confirmed that the suspected COVID-19 case who visited Canberra over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend (14 June) has been deemed a false positive after reassessment.
The man in his 40s from Sydney’s north-west had visited the Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery exhibition at the National Gallery and Via Dolce Pasticceria in the city, and had initially returned a low viral load which made it impossible to rule out that he was infected with COVID-19 during his visit.
Ms Stephen-Smith said ACT Health had taken the correct action based on the information they had at the time and the risk to Canberra.
The Via Dolce Pasticceria on Bunda Street had been listed as a causal contact zone, so clients did not have to go into isolation. However, the premises did undergo a voluntary deep clean.
Via Dolce owner Joe Pelle said he was relieved to hear the case was a false positive.
“As Canberrans, we have been very fortunate that COVID-19 has not taken hold of the city. The false positive is a timely reminder that the pandemic is very much still active and that we are all very vulnerable,” he said.
NSW has today put more than a million people within the LGAs of Waverley, Woollahra, Randwick and the City of Sydney in lockdown until 11:59 pm on Friday 2 July as the Bondi cluster has grown to 65.
Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid says the lockdown measures are not going far enough to address the spread of the delta variant and has called for a city-wide lockdown.
More information is available at ACT Health.