Increased COVID-19 Restrictions
Written on the 3 September 2021
Updates on the New COVID-19 Restrictions
The 3-months lockdown in NSW has made it incredibly challenging for people to keep up with the restrictions. The NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has extended the lockdown, which was supposed to end on August 28 to September 30.
Since August 23, NSW introduced further restrictions, which include:
- Mask mandates
- Travel permit to leave Greater Sydney
- Authorised workers vaccine mandates
Furthermore, the NSW government has announced that police will be given more powers starting from September 6. The police powers are the following:
- Patrolling apartment blocks
- Asking for residents’ and visitors’ contact numbers
- Ordering residents to take COVID-19 tests
- Locking down the entire apartment block if one COVID-19 case is detected in the building. Visitors who are present at the time are subject to the lockdown as well.
There are 12 local government areas (LGA) “of concern” in NSW where curfews have been enforced. The areas include Burwood, Campbelltown, Cumberland, Canterbury-Bankstown, Bayside, Blacktown, Georges River, Liverpool, Fairfield, Strathfield, Parramatta, and suburbs in Penrith.
These areas are subject to stricter rules due to the increased number of COVID-19 cases. The curfews take place from 9:00 pm to 5:00 pm, when residents are not allowed to leave their dwellings. There will be an exception for authorised workers and those who need to seek medical assistance.
A while ago, only those who live in the 12 local government areas (LGAs) are subjected to wearing masks outdoors. However, the rule changes on August 23, when NSW residents are now mandated to wear masks outside.
Travel permit to leave Greater Sydney
There are strict restrictions for those who wish to travel from Greater Sydney to the regional areas. People will be required to get a permit, which they will be able to get if they satisfy one of the following requirements:
- Leaving Greater Sydney for work purposes. However, workers should prove a negative COVID-19 test in the previous 7 days.
- Leaving Greater Sydney to travel to their second home outside the city. The permit will only be approved if they use their home as a workspace or if there are emergencies in the second home.
- Leaving Greater Sydney to survey properties for a relocation. Therefore, surveying investment properties outside Greater Sydney are not permitted.
- Leaving Greater Sydney to move permanently.
Authorised Workers Vaccine Mandates
Childcare workers in the local government areas (LGAs) of concern are mandated to receive at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, healthcare workers are mandated to take their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by August 30, and employers need to implement rapid antigen testing as a requirement to operate.
Increased Police Powers
As discussed before, police are given greater powers by the NSW government starting on September 6. Police are now authorised to patrol apartment buildings and enforce a lockdown of an entire apartment block if one positive case is detected in a building. Moreover, they have the right to ask for the name and contact numbers of both the residents and visitors. In addition, the police have the right to order residents to take the COVID-19 tests.
If one case is detected in an apartment building, the whole building residents are required to go into a 14-days lockdown -- but, an exception will be made for those who wish to go to the hospital or take the COVID-19 case.
The Owners Corporation Network (OCN) demands the NSW government “to engage directly and be transparent about their strategy for supporting residents in lockdown”. One reason is that many strata schemes do not have strata managers to regulate the building; hence, communications among residents are challenging.
The strata expert, Dr. Cathy Sherry, claims that the new regulations are very clear and target multi-residential dwellings. However, Dr. Sherry thinks that it is a shame that the first public order revolves around police power over the residents. Though the government finally imposes rules on apartment buildings, there is some lacking clarity on those rules. For instance, workers who live or work at the LGAs of concern need to wear masks outdoors. However, there are no rules that mandate residents to wear masks in the common outdoor areas, such as the garden or courtyards. Dr. Sherry said, “If you’re presenting rules for strata building, they should be clearly written and make sense. But these leave so much ambiguity, it can be hard to understand them. Then, you’re asking untrained volunteers on strata committees to make incredibly important judgement calls.” With this being said, the government has once again created rules that don’t directly address the apartment building common property situation. Thus, it has created ambiguity for those who are responsible for managing these areas.
- ABC News
- Health Direct