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Sydney lockdown extends another two weeks as NSW adds 97 COVID-19 cases

CONCERNED: Business Hunter chief executive Bob Hawes.
CONCERNED: Business Hunter chief executive Bob Hawes.

LOCKDOWN in Sydney will go on for at least another two weeks from Friday, the state government has confirmed.

Home learning will be required for school students during that period after the state recorded 97 cases of community transmission, 24 of which were infectious in the community.

The lockdown is now in place until at least July 30.

"The 24 number is what we have to get down close to zero before we can end the lockdown," Ms Berejiklian said.

"If we have cases in isolation that is less of a worry to us."

Hunter business leaders warned the continued lockdown for Sydney would "weigh heavily" across the region despite the need for it to happen.

"The support package announced yesterday will go some way to offsetting the economic hardship experienced by individuals and businesses," Business Hunter chief executive Bob Hawes said.

"Business Hunter also implores our regional community to not only do the right thing so we don't register cases locally or see an extension of the restrictions, but also to do what they can to support local businesses as we go about our lives over the next few weeks.

"The struggles being experienced by local businesses in sectors like hospitality and tourism are well documented and we are all in a position to help mitigate the downturn by continuing to patronise and support these local businesses.

"We want businesses in the hard-hit sectors to be in the best position to be able to retain their employees. This will be difficult if the level of local economic activity wanes as it has done over the past few weeks. We want everyone to do the right thing, exhaust those Dine and Discover vouchers and try to stay positive."

Ms Berejiklian said the two-week extension was in part about providing certainty for the state "but unfortunately none of us have a crystal ball".

"The advice on the two weeks is provided through [NSW] Health," she said. "Remember the impacts of some of the changes we have put in place won't be felt for the next few days.

"What I don't want to do is provide guesswork to the community. The community deserves certainty."

Ms Berejiklian rebutted questions of the government's preparedness, saying tackling the outbreak was and would continue to be a matter of following the advice of experts.

"Our decisions are always based on the health advice. I have as many people telling me we went too early as I do telling me that we went too late," she said.

"I appreciate there'll be lots of opinions out there, but please appreciate that every decision we make is based on the public health advice."

"None of us want to be in this situation."

The case numbers are the first released since the state and federal relief package for individuals and business were unveiled on Tuesday.

Those support measures also extend to Hunter ventures and people who have suffered a downturn in work as a result of the restrictions spanning the state.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said on Wednesday the measures, which also include protections for tenants and a deferral of payroll taxes, would be helpful in an uncertain time.

"I appreciate this is a challenging time, we have put a significant package together," he said.

"We've done it over the last 18 months, and we will do it again."

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the Fairfield local government area, which has "three quarters of the cases", had reduced its mobility in a promising sign.

"We need those adjoining council areas ... to also reduce their mobility," she said.

"That means stay home. Don't leave the house unless you absolutely have to."

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Wednesday's numbers continue a streak of cases who have not isolated while infectious.

Ms Berejiklian said the most common transmission was between immediate family members and workmates.

Dr Kerry Chant said there were some cases who were not connected that contact tracers were examining.

"Of today's cases the vast majority were in southwestern Sydney," Dr Chant said, adding 70 were from the area.

More than 65,000 people were tested in NSW during the 24-hour period, a figure Ms Berejiklian dubbed "outstanding".

In the Hunter uptake for the Belmont vaccination hub has been rapid, with thousands signed up to head to the former Bunnings site just days after it was given an opening date.

The current outbreak has seen 864 locally acquired cases reported since 16 June, when the first case in the Bondi cluster was reported.

There are currently 71 cases admitted to hospital, with 20 people in intensive care, four of whom require ventilation.

Of the 97 locally acquired cases reported to 8pm, 70 are from South Western Sydney Local Health District (LHD), 14 are from South Eastern Sydney LHD, five are from Sydney LHD, four are from Western Sydney LHD, two are from Northern Sydney LHD and two are from Nepean Blue Mountains LHD.

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This story Sydney lockdown extension will 'weigh heavily' in Hunter: Hawes first appeared on Newcastle Herald.