NSW lockdown: Regional communities will be told before Saturday if extension needed

Deputy Premier John Barilaro has committed to holding daily press conferences for journalists to ask questions from regional communities. Picture: Jamila Toderas
Deputy Premier John Barilaro has committed to holding daily press conferences for journalists to ask questions from regional communities. Picture: Jamila Toderas

Premier Gladys Berejiklian revealed regional NSW was put into a lockdown because of the government's concern about the outbreak in the ACT.

The Premier said while case numbers in some LGAs now in lockdown were low, the rules were in place to ensure people were protected from the spread of disease.

"One of the reasons why we went to the decision to lockdown the whole state was also because of the risk posed by the ACT and proximity to areas like Goulburn and the South Coast which was a real concern for us," she said.

"The best way to protect communities in the regions at the moment is to have the lockdown in place to reduce mobility but also to support vaccination programs."

Deputy Premier John Barilaro has said regional communities will be informed "well before Saturday" whether or not there will be an extension to the seven-day lockdown, with the crisis committee due to give its advice to government tomorrow.

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Responding to questions from journalists on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Barilaro said the number of cases in the Central West region was still concerning health authorities.

"We'd rather be honest with people and say if the seven days is not sufficient, we'll go to 14 days," he said.

"The crisis committee will evaluate that tomorrow on the data. After tomorrow, we'll be able to inform the communities well before Saturday."

Pharmacies on board with vaccine rollout

From Monday, a number of regional pharmacies were brought online to help deliver doses of AstraZeneca.

Premier Berejiklian said pharmacists could undertake the consent process to help people who wanted to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

"Some pharmacists might think it's easier to divert people through their GPs, but most pharmacists I know are actually undertaking that consent process on premises," she said.

Will cross-border restrictions ease when lockdown ends in regional New South Wales?

Mr Barilaro said it would be up to the governments in other states and territories when it came to lifting their restrictions on NSW residents.

"If and when the lockdown ends and the restrictions are lifted in regional New South Wales regional and rural New South Wales, that'll give freedom back to those communities on our side of the border," he said.

"But it's very early in the piece, we may or may not lift the restrictions this weekend or the following weekend.

"We will work towards when we know we're going to lift restrictions and then we'll see what our counterparts are saying on the other side of the border."

Is Shellharbour classified as regional or part of Greater Sydney? 

Both the Premier and Deputy Premier said because of Shellharbour's proximity to Wollongong, extra care needed to be taken.

"The New South Wales Government, based on the health advice, took a very conservative approach to Shellharbour because of that close proximity," Premier Berejiklian said.

"It's proven to be a place where people come through and concerningly there is a higher chance of having the virus spread there."

Mr Barilaro said more clarity on the Greater Sydney permit system to enter regional NSW would be released soon.

"We'll have more to say about the permit system and what happens inside and outside of Greater Metro and regional in the next few days, and there will be unique arrangements for people," he said.

"Ring of Steel" around Greater Sydney

Mr Barilaro said the effects of the police operation "Stay at Home" which gave heavier fines and penalties to people caught breaking the rules, was a step in the right direction to protecting the region.

"The permit system is kicking in this weekend with the new rules and the limited excuses for going to the regions which is going to give us another level of comfort," he said.

"We are happy to always talk to Commissioner Fuller in relation to further recommendations. As he said yesterday at the press conference, these new arrangements have only just kicked in so we should give it time to see if it works."

Premier Berejiklian said an increased police presence at train stations would help stop people from breaking the rules.

"Please rest assured that whether it's at major transport hubs or whether it's on the actual trains themselves, police are doing all those things," she said.

"Operation Stay At Home came into force yesterday across the whole state and people will be able to see and feel an increased police presence."

Concern for Central West 

With 100 cases confirmed in the Central West health district, journalists were told more help was coming to the region in the form of vaccine doses.

"We're especially concerned about the West Dubbo community and the rate of the virus there, and have sent 1000s of extra Pfizer doses," she said.

"The Western NSW Local Health District is working hard to to up resources, and also have contingency plans in place for people who need extra medical care.

"We will make sure that we provide extra information when we can, especially given West Dubbo is probably the areas we're worried about the most in regional New South Wales."

This story Regional NSW communities will be told 'well before Saturday' about lockdown extension first appeared on Bay Post-Moruya Examiner.