Sydneysiders who flout new mandatory mask rules from Monday risk a $200 fine as the rule becomes enforceable.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard has asked police to exercise discretion in handing out fines to those who ignore the new rules.
Masks are now mandatory in shopping centres, on public transport, in places of worship, hair and beauty premises, entertainment venues such as cinemas and other indoor venues like post offices and banks.
All hospitality staff are also required to wear one.
Mandatory masks have been introduced as a suburban bottle shop causes a headache for authorities trying to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Tens of thousands of people have been affected by the listing of a suburban bottle shop as an exposure site over the Christmas period.
BWS in Berala, in the city’s west, was an exposure site for up to nine hours a day every day between December 22 and New Year’s Eve, skipping only Christmas Day.
Most who dropped by the bottle-shop across the Christmas period are now considered close contacts and need to isolate for 14 days even if they only attended the outlet for a short time.
More than 1000 people who attended on Christmas Eve alone.
A cluster in Berala is up to 13 cases, with genetic sequencing revealing the source is a patient transfer worker who took a family of returned overseas travellers to a health facility.
The worker became infected and passed the virus to a colleague, who attended the Berala bottle shop for a “very fleeting amount of time” on December 20.
The NSW government has set a target of 20,000 or 30,000 tests a day while it tackles the outbreaks.
Thousands isolating after exposure risks
Across Victoria and NSW tens of thousands of people are self-isolating after contact tracing identified them as potentially infected by coronavirus.
The Berala bottle shop is causing anxiety for authorities while, in Victoria, more than 2500 close primary and secondary contacts of those infected by the Black Rock cluster, in bayside Melbourne, are quarantining to avoid a major spread.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has applauded authorities in the two states for their quick response and contact tracing.
While the NSW outbreaks have seeded across different Sydney locations, and into Melbourne according to genomic testing, a “potentially enormous event” could have occurred, he said.
Mr Hunt said Victoria was in a much stronger place this time around, but cautioned any response around border closures had to have a compassionate element.
Victoria’s border is now closed to all travellers from NSW, with some Victorian residents unable to make it home.
More than 1500 people have applied for exemptions to the strict border ban, but so far just 117 have been granted, including for end of life visits and funerals.
“We’re confident that Victoria will work and find ways to bring people home to their home state,” Mr Hunt said, adding Australia had no “domestic passports”.
AMA makes SCG Test plea
NSW Health officials will do a “walk through” at the SCG before rubber stamping plans for the third Test, which currently permit a daily crowd of approximately 20,000.
Outdoor seated events are now capped at 2000 people, although NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says COVID-safe plans for larger events will be reviewed.
NSW Opposition Leader Jodi McKay has called for there to be no crowd at the SCG Test, and Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid issued a public plea on Saturday regarding an event that could “supercharge the spread of COVID-19”.
“This is a potential transmission site,” Dr Khorshid said.
“As people queue at the ticket gates, at food and beverage stalls and use shared toilet facilities – on top of taking public transport from all parts of Sydney to gather in one central location.
“The decision to hold the Test match with spectators is at odds with the rest of NSW’s appropriate response to the latest outbreak.
“Let’s put health first and watch the third Test on TV.”
Ms Berejiklian defended the fact that masks will be recommended – but not mandated – at the ground but felt fans would understand if there are any last-minute changes to rules or crowd size.
“During a pandemic, things can move very quickly,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“People in our state understand decisions need be taken (quickly) and the consequences that might occu