In yet another setback to Sydney businesses, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed that the current Greater Sydney stay-at-home restrictions will now be extended for at least another fortnight until midnight on July 30.
The extended restrictions will apply to Greater Sydney, which includes the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong, and Shellharbour. Restrictions in regional NSW remain unchanged.
“Given the ongoing number of infectious cases in the community, the current lockdown will be extended for at least another two weeks until 11:59 pm on Friday, 30 July.
“We are constantly reviewing the health advice and will continue to update the community if any changes are required.
“In these areas, online learning for students will also continue for an additional two weeks.”
NSW recorded 97 new local COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the outbreak total to 864.
Previously, the lockdown in Greater Sydney had been extended until July 17. In addition, four major Australian cities — Brisbane, Perth, Darwin, and Sydney — had all been placed under restrictions.
Angela Vithoulkas, a Sydney councillor and the founder of the Small Business Political Party, raised objections to the announcement, criticising the NSW government’s handling of the Covid-19 situation.
“This latest lockdown is the most brutal of all so far in Australia,” Ms Vithoulkas said.
“The health and economic aspects of this pandemic have clearly shown how woeful our governments are at dealing with a crisis, a crisis that they have had 18 months to get familiar with.
“As usual, the NSW & Federal Government have come out with a half-baked policy that’s left small business owners and their accountants baffled and angry.
“However this recipe turns out, it won’t be enough to feed the people that it’s meant to serve. They stuffed up the vaccine rollout & quarantine measures, not us.”
Meanwhile, the National Retail Association (NRA) said that the two-week lockdown extension across large parts of New South Wales justifies the recent support package, with the full cost now set to hit $5 billion over five weeks.
NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said that affected NSW retailers are losing a combined total of $1 billion for each week of lockdown.
“When prolonged lockdowns are needed to contain COVID outbreaks, then businesses need corresponding support to survive,” Ms Lamb said.
“Each week this lockdown continues, affected retailers lose a combined $1 billion in sales. Even if restrictions are lifted on July 30, we’re still looking at an accumulated hit of $5 billion-plus consumer confidence does not rebound overnight.”
Ms Lamb also said that further assistance would be required if the NSW lockdown continues beyond July 30.
“The Greater Sydney region is the biggest economic centre in the country. Any impact to this area with regards to business or jobs losses is bound to have a domino effect across the country,” Ms Lamb said.
“Until restrictions in these areas can be lifted both the state and federal governments need to closely monitor the economic fallout. This absolutely means that further business assistance may be needed.”