Sydneysiders in one of the city’s most populous suburbs are being begged to stay indoors over fears sparked by a fresh coronavirus outbreak at two popular inner-city restaurants.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said she is ‘extremely concerned’ over the clusters, with three restaurants across wider Sydney closed in the last few days.
Ms Berejiklian begged Sydneysiders to ‘reduce their mobility’ to stop the spread of the disease during an appearance on the Today show on Tuesday morning.
The warning comes after two restaurants, Thai Rock and The Apollo, closed down in the central Sydney suburb of Potts Point, which is the city’s most densely populated area along with neighbouring Woolloomooloo.
On Tuesday, the state recorded 14 new cases – including staff members from each of the restaurants.
Making matters worse, 18 staff from the pharmacy at St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Darlinghurst dined at the Thai Rock restaurant and are now in self-isolation.
There are an estimated 24,441 people packed into apartments and terrace houses over just 1.46 square kilometres in the Potts Point-Woolloomooloo area.
In addition, many people visit the area for its cafés, restaurants and nightlife, which includes the notorious Kings Cross, potentially spreading the disease across the city.
‘I’m extremely concerned. There’s a lot of things going right but there’s a lot of things we can’t control. It only takes one or two cases for there to be a ripple effect,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
‘When you think about what you might have done in the last 14 days, or what your friends might have done in the last 14 days, when you think about all the places you might have gone through – that’s what each of our health detectives are identifying.’
The Premier explained it is a ‘huge job’ for health detectives to comb through two weeks of locations and requested people go out less to reduce their workload.
‘We’re asking people to modify their activity, to reduce their mobility. That will reduce and allow us to control the spread,’ she said.
‘It will allow us to make sure we’re not having any undetected cases which can very quickly get out of control.
‘We’re asking everybody, especially those in those identified areas where there are a number of cases, whether it’s southwestern Sydney, western Sydney and now Potts Point.’
While Melbourne has gone into lockdown, Sydney remains open for business, although establishments need to be ‘COVID safe’ under health guidelines.
The Apollo restaurant in Potts Point found that one of its patrons tested positive and shut down on Monday night, with a staff member now also infected.
Customers who dined at The Apollo between July 23 and 25 have been urged to get tested and quarantine for 14 days.
Another Potts Point restaurant, Thai Rock, shut down on Sunday night with a staff member and diner both testing positive for COVID-19.
The restaurant is run by the same owners of the Thai Rock restaurant in Wetherill Park, which has 71 linked cases – making it the biggest cluster in NSW.
The owners have said no staff have gone between the two restaurants.
In addition, NSW Health is now requesting all Potts Point residents and visitors to get tested whether they visited the restaurants or not.
‘NSW Health is also asking all people who live in or have visited the Potts Point area in the past two weeks to get tested if they have any symptoms of COVID-19,’ the department announced.
Mounties on Meadows Road and the Pritchard’s Hotel, both in Mount Pritchard, have also had to close after a customer went to both venues while infected.
All staff and guests who attended Mounties on July 23 between midnight and 3am as well as July 24 between 11am-3pm and 8pm-midnight must isolate for two weeks.
Meanwhile, anyone who was at the bistro of the Pritchard’s Hotel on July 23 between 7 and 7.45pm is being told to get tested if they have symptoms.
Ms Berejiklian said they said police will ‘absolutely’ throw the book at Black Lives Matter protestors gathering in the Sydney CBD on Tuesday.
‘Absolutely, but I’m hoping it won’t come to that (throwing the book). We’re still appealing to people’s consciences to say “if you’re not worried about yourself, think about the loved ones you could be infecting”,’ she said.
‘Now the law says you shouldn’t be out there (protesting), the pandemic and I think the ethical standards say you shouldn’t be out there. Please think of a different way to express your views. It’s a pandemic, it’s not normal circumstances.
‘In NSW, we’re at a very, very critical point.’