July 28, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

The lockdown of Greater Sydney has been extended by another four weeks this morning as the state set a new record for daily cases in this outbreak, notching up 177 cases to 8pm yesterday. The lockdown is now in place until at least August 28.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian flagged this morning that it may be possible to lift the restrictions on the parts of regional NSW included in the lockdown earlier, if it is safe to do so. Currently the Central Coast, Wollongong, the Blue Mountains and Shellharbour are subject to the same stay-at-home restrictions as metropolitan Sydney.

There will be a few changes to the lockdown going forward. The list of LGAs where only critical and health and aged care workers can leave for work has been expanded to include Parramatta, Campbelltown and Georges River. There are now eight LGAs in this group, with the others being Cumberland, Canterbury-Bankstown, Blacktown, Liverpool and Fairfield. Canterbury-Bankstown has its testing of critical workers tightened, while in Fairfield where cases are beginning to fall, the three-day testing requirement has been eased to include only health and aged care workers.

Singles’ bubbles will be introduced, shopping outside your own LGA (or within 10km) has been banned and construction will return from Saturday for non-occupied sites and non-contact trades people, outside of the eight LGAs where restrictions are tighter.

In a major vaccination shift, Year 12 students in those eight LGAs under harder lockdown will all be offered the Pfizer vaccine so that face-to-face learning for that year group can return in two weeks, with the doses required to supply this initiative to come from regional NSW.

Rapid antigen testing is also being considered for key work sites and education.

Additional financial support was also announced this morning, although it is unlikely to impact the events industry, as it primarily extends support to businesses with higher turnovers. Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to announce additional support for individuals later today however, in the form of top ups to payments already provided by the Commonwealth.

With the lockdown now running through until almost the end of August, major events like Vivid Sydney, which is slated to kick off just 20 days after the earliest end of the stay-at-home orders, seem likely to be in doubt.