• Tony Bosworth

New restrictions as COVID cases soar – 50% of new cases aged 20 to 39 – peak likely end of January

Premier Dominic Perrottet has today - Friday - announced new restrictions for NSW residents, including the Hawkesbury, as COVID cases continue to climb across the state and hospitalisations increase.

Under the new temporary restrictions – and this one brings us in line with Victoria - anyone who records a positive rapid antigen test (RAT) – if you can get one - will need to register with NSW Health – it will be treated the same as if you get a positive PCR (swab) test.

That registration process is being worked on now with Service NSW.

Once that comes into force it will continue until January 27, Premier Perrottet said, announcing the new restrictions today.

NSW Health deputy secretary, Susan Pearce, said earlier the most likely scenario is that the current outbreak will peak in the third or fourth week of January, and by mid-February, NSW will be “well past” the peak of the outbreak.

The new rules:

* Anyone recording a positive RAT test will need to enter that result with NSW Health.

* No singing and dancing in hospitality venues – so pubs and clubs. It doesn’t include weddings or performers, or classes that people may be conducting.

* Major events - the majority of major events – like the upcoming Hawkesbury Council-organised Australia Day on the Hawkesbury – will go-ahead, said the Premier, though NSW Health is reviewing all such events and if any are deemed a high risk venue, COVID-safe plans will be implemented.

“So if you have a major event planned, throughout January, continue as planned,” said the Premier.

* New vaccine mandates - in situations where vaccinations are mandatory, they will now have to include booster shots, so a third vaccine jab.

That will include teachers, nurses, frontline health and disability workers, and any others where NSW Health has previously required mandatory vaccination.

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant explained why the new restrictions are necessary.

“In the last seven days almost 50% of the cases are aged between 20 and 39 years. So there’s 29% between 20 and 29, and 30 and 39 account for 19% of the cases.

“The transmission is happening in a variety of settings. Obviously in those household and social gatherings that people are having, and also in places like pubs, clubs, nightclubs, and the concern around the behaviour of dancing and singing, I suppose, just to explain to people why we’re picking on that as a transmission mechanism - is the fact that when people are in those environments and dancing, you’re actually encountering and bringing together people from very different social networks,” she said.

We’ll add more detail as we get it.

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