New lockdowns have been announced for Greater Sydney, Wollongong and the Central Coast - with residents living and working in these areas told to remain at home from 6pm (local time) today.
New South Wales (NSW) Premier Gladys Berejiklian signalled tougher restrictions were likely after the state recorded 12 new locally acquired Covid-19 infections since its update yesterday.
Seventeen new infections had already been reported, meaning there were a total of 29 locally acquired infections in the 24 hours to 8pm (local time) yesterday.
Berejiklian said the situation in the state was "evolving".
Speaking after a crisis cabinet meeting today, Berejiklian said people in the four areas were required to stay home until Friday, 9 July, unless for four reasons: work or education outside the home if it is necessary, to seek medical attention, for care and compassionate grounds and to purchase essential goods or services.
Another four Sydney local government areas - the City of Sydney, Randwick, Waverley and Woollahra - began a week of lockdown at 11.59pm last night.
The premier said health authorities were particularly concerned today's 12 new cases could not be traced back to those local government areas.
"The NSW government will take any necessary action it needs to take," the premier said.
"We don't want to impose burdens unless we absolutely have to, unfortunately, we have to."
Berejikian said weddings would be permitted to take place today and tomorrow on compassionate grounds.
However, from Monday they would not be allowed until at least 9 July.
Funerals will be permitted with a maximum 100 guests (subject to a four-square-metre rule) for the duration of the lockdown.
There was "no point" only locking down for a few days as it wouldn't allow contact tracers to stay ahead of the virus, Berejiklian said.
"The best health advice today is that it should be for two weeks, but if there is any massive improvement ahead of that time, of course, we'll evaluate that," she said.
Berejiklian urged residents across Sydney to not travel if they did not need to.
"I just ask everybody not only to follow the health orders and the health advice, but also to exercise extra caution, extra degree of concern for those people closest to you, and also for the broader community," she said.
Chief health officer Kerry Chant said while only one of the 29 new cases was unlinked, she was more concerned the virus was spreading quickly through the community.
"Whilst we are linking the cases very quickly and establishing those lines of transmission what we are finding is by the time we have got to some of those cases they have already on-transmitted," she said.
Only 12 of the 29 cases were in isolation during their infectious period.
One other previously reported case, a child who attends St Charles' Catholic Primary School in Waverley, is the only other case in the state that remains unlinked.
There have been 82 locally acquired Covid-19 cases in NSW since June 16, when the index case for the Bondi cluster, a driver who transported international flight crew, was reported.
Chant accepted that several aspects of the lockdown orders announced yesterday may have been confusing but said when in doubt people should use common sense and caution.
"This is no time for squabbling with the detail. It is the principle, we cannot construct health orders that cover every scenario," she said.
"I'm not a lawyer … it is really hard crafting public health orders that cover everyone's circumstances."
There were 55,227 tests reported to 8pm (local time) yesterday, compared with the previous day's total of 47,603.
This is the highest number of Covid-19 tests in one day since 23 December 2020, when 60,184 tests were recorded.
Victoria to strengthen border with NSW
Victoria's Health Minister Martin Foley says a new community transfer case in Victoria reported overnight was linked to the current Southbank outbreak and is a household contact taking the total outbreak to 12.
He said it was an important time to protect Victoria's border with NSW and he said they would continue to strengthen that border.
"The message is simple: Don't come from NSW's red zone to Victoria. And for Victorians, do not visit those red zones in NSW," Foley said.
He said Victoria Police had ramped up its presence on the border and was "highly visible" with an increased number of police operating 24/7.
There were more than 260 additional police officers on roving patrols and "pop-up check points", Foley said. There were also spot checks and automatic number plate recognition in place.