Calls grow for Sydney to go into a city-wide lockdown

NSW Opposition leader calls for masks to be made mandatory and says she’d support a Sydney-wide lockdown if cases spread beyond the Northern Beaches

  • NSW Opposition leader has said she would back a Sydney-wide lockdown 
  • So far only the Northern Beaches has been shut down due to cluster of 68 
  • Labor leader Jodi McKay also called for masks to be made mandatory 

NSW Opposition leader Jodi McKay has said she would back a Sydney-wide lockdown if cases are found outside the Northern Beaches. 

So far only the Northern Beaches has been shut down but there are fears the cluster of 68 is spreading outside the area undetected.

On Monday morning Ms McKay praised the state’s contact tracing system but said harsher measures should be considered.

NSW Opposition leader Jodi McKay has said she would back a Sydney-wide lockdown if cases are found outside the Northern Beaches. Pictured: Sydney deserted on Sunday

‘It’s the best in the world, I have no doubt about that,’ she said.

‘But we can’t just depend on the NSW Health contact tracing team to get us through this. Everything needs to be done to make sure this is contained within the northern beaches and the spread stops.’ 

Ms McKay has repeatedly called for masks to be made mandatory outside home, but the government does not want to do this.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he does not want to put extra stress on bus drivers by asking them to become policemen and get into disputes with people who refuse to wear masks.

‘If we have bus drivers having to act like police, there is already a level of anxiety for them and we don’t want to put them in a situation where they will be policemen and possibly getting into sorts of fights,’ he told ABC News on Monday morning. 

‘The public health officials are recommending that it be used but not make it mandatory at the present time,’ he added. 

On Monday morning NSW Health posted a tweet saying the government ‘strongly recommends’ masks on public transport and where social distancing is not possible such as in shops and supermarkets.

The tweet was met with hundreds of comments from Sydney residents saying masks should be mandatory. 

Asked on Sunday why she has not recommended mandatory mask-wearing in NSW, chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant stressed the importance of individual responsibility. 

There were more than 28,000 tests on Saturday and queues were up to six hours long on Sunday as residents responded to the call. Pictured: A testing queue in Darlinghurst on Sunday

‘We all have a part to play in how we respond to this and often the actions we adopt require people to co-operate and I must just express my gratitude to the population of New South Wales,’ she said.

‘Ultimately it is also in the hands of the individuals within New South Wales.’ 

Federal chief health officer Professor Paul Kelly also said forcing people to wear masks was not necessary.

‘I understand mask use in the wider Sydney area has increased substantially,’ he said.

‘We didn’t need in order to make that, people make their decisions and most people make sensible decisions. I’m not in favour of mandatory mask use.’ 

Asked about New South Wales’ restrictions he said: ‘I think they’ve got it about right.’ 

Federal health minister Greg Hunt was hopeful that New South Wales could control the outbreak and said mandating masks was not necessary.

‘We’ve done this before. We know we can do it as a country. We’ve done it better than virtually anybody else, and it might still be a difficult Christmas, but we want it to be a safe Christmas,’ he said on Monday morning. 

This map highlights Homebush, St Peters, Erskineville and Surry Hills among the places were positive patients have visited. Click here to see NSW places on alert

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