Sydney’s COVID-19 cluster has spread to two popular pubs in the CBD and a gym in the western suburbs, but experts are confident New South Wales will be ‘in the clear’ by Christmas if new daily cases continue to decline.
Anyone who visited the popular London Hotel in Paddington on Thursday December 17 between 8.15pm and 9.30pm must get tested immediately and isolate for 14 days regardless of the result.
Patrons who attended the Paragon Hotel’s sports bar opposite the Circular Quay wharf on Wednesday December 16 between 12.45pm and 3.30pm are also advised to get tested and isolate for 14 days even if they receive a negative result.
BodyFit Gym in Blacktown, a popular fitness centre in Sydney’s west, was also added to the urgent alert list on Monday night. The gym, which has 10,000 followers on Facebook, ran 24/7 before Covid hit but is now open from 5am-11pm on weekdays.
NSW Health have advised anyone who attended the gym on December 16, 17 or 18 between 7am and 8am to get tested immediately and isolate for 14 days regardless of the result. The full list of affected venues can be seen here.
The new hotspot announcements come after a senior federal health official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said NSW has the potential be ‘in the clear’ by Christmas.
‘New cases may start to pop up from today, tomorrow and Wednesday… If they don’t, then I suspect they (NSW) will be largely in the clear,’ the official told The Australian.
Other NSW government sources told the publication the low amount of Covid cases reported over the last few days had left authorities ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the state’s chances of containing the northern beaches outbreak before it spreads.
New urgent alert venues across Sydney
Alexandria Cortex Gym – Strength and Conditioning Class
This venue has been updated from casual to close contact.
Avalon Beach RSL Club 1 Bowling Green Lane, Avalon Beach
Friday, 11 December – All day until close
Monday, 14 December – All day until close
Tuesday, 15 December – All day until close
Wednesday, 16 December 1pm-midnight
Wednesday, 16 December – Opening time to 1pm
Anyone who attended at this time should get tested immediately and isolate pending a result.
Avalon Beach United Cinemas
Tuesday, 15 December 12pm-2.15pm
Blacktown BodyFit Gym
Wednesday, 16 December 7am-8am
Thursday, 17 December 7am-8am
Friday, 18 December 7am-8am
Mona Vale Park House Hotel 2 Park St, Mona Vale
Wednesday, 16 December 8.00pm-10pm
Mona Vale Pilates KX
Monday, 14 December 7pm-9pm
Narrabeen The Boatshed Cafe & Bar Lower Level
Monday, 14 December 2pm-3pm
Newport Sankaku Izakaya Newport
Thursday, 17 December 2.30pm-3.30pm
Newport Lovat Restaurant
Tuesday, 15 December 6.30pm-8.30pm
Patrons sitting inside or staff working on the floor at the bar are close contacts and must get tested and isolate for 14 days even if a negative result is received.
All other patrons are casual contacts who must get tested immediately and isolate pending a result.
Paddington London Hotel
Thursday, 17 December 8.15pm-9.30pm
Sydney Paragon Hotel, Sports Bar
Wednesday, 16 December 12.45pm-3.30pm
Anyone who attended the Sports Bar during this time for more than one hour is considered a close contact and should get tested and isolate for 14 days even if they receive a negative result.
Anyone who attended the Sports Bar during this time for less than one hour get tested immediately and isolate pending a negative result. Continue to watch for COVID-19 symptoms and if any symptoms occur, get tested again
People who attended other areas of the Paragon Hotel during this time, should monitor for symptoms, and isolate and get tested immediately if symptoms appear.
Warriewood Headland Private Tennis Court
Monday, 14 December 9.30am-12pm
Warriewood United Cinemas
Tuesday, 15 December 12pm-2.30pm
Anyone who visited London Hotel (left) in Paddington on December 17 between 8.15pm and 9.30pm or Paragon Hotel (right) on December 12 at lunch-time must get tested immediately
Despite ‘patient zero’ of the Avalon cluster still being unknown, every COVID-19 case in the second outbreak has either been in, or has a direct route back to, the northern beaches
NSW recorded 15 new coronavirus infections on Monday – all linked to the northern beaches cluster.
Monday’s cases were half the number recorded on Sunday, taking the total to 83.
Despite ‘patient zero’ of the Avalon cluster still being unknown, every COVID-19 case in the second outbreak has either been in, or has a direct route back to, the northern beaches.
Professor of epidemiology at UNSW Mary-Louise McLaws said it’s unlikely Sydney will experience a Melbourne-style lockdown, which lasted four months.
Northern beaches residents began a strict three-day lockdown on Saturday, with locals only allowed to leave home for essential shopping, exercise, work, to receive medical treatment or for compassionate grounds.
Prof McLaws said the two lockdowns are incomparable as there was constantly a risk of community transmission in Melbourne due to its hotel quarantine disaster.
‘The numbers were in what I would call the amber and red zone, basically five or more cases a day,’ she told the ABC.
The northern beaches went into lockdown when cases of community transmission reached 30, but new daily cases in Melbourne had reached 72 by the time the city was shut down.
Prof McLaws said Victoria’s contact tracing system was already buckling under pressure, with just nine cases linked to outbreaks, 19 found from testing and more than 40 under investigation.
Within a week, Melbourne hit 149 new cases of community transmission in a single day, prompting stage 3 lockdown.
Prof McLaws said NSW has low case numbers on its side, as health officials had been able to swiftly trace and identify contacts.
But she remains concerned about potential seeding in Turramurra, Erskineville and potentially Paddington.
Prof McLaws said if people had caught the virus in those suburbs, new cases might not be known until Boxing Day.
‘We are still holding our breath for what this means for Christmas,’ she said.
BodyFit Gym in Blacktown, in Sydney’s west, was also added to the urgent alert list on Monday night
Prof McVernon said at this stage the virus appears to be ‘pretty well geographically contained’ to the northern beaches
Scott Morrison said he believes northern beaches locals’ reluctance to leave their region, regardless of a pandemic, will help contain the virus
The new hotspot announcements come after a senior federal health official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said NSW has the potential be ‘in the clear’ by Christmas
‘I can’t actually see Christmas being an overly large event for the northern beaches.’
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the Government will announce on Wednesday what public health orders would be imposed for Christmas Day.
‘I appreciate how frustrating it is, and I would love to be able to tell everybody today what Christmas might look like in NSW or the northern beaches. But we’re not in a position to do that yet,’ she said on Monday.
Prof Jodie McVernon, a leading epidemiologist at the Peter Doherty Institute in Melbourne, believes putting Greater Sydney into lockdown would be ‘disproportionate’.
‘Everything that has been done – a localised lockdown and limits on things like gatherings – is, in my opinion, in line with what you would expect,’ she told The Guardian.
‘I know others disagree, but I think we shouldn’t immediately be jumping to lockdowns as our only response to outbreaks. Putting greater Sydney into a hard lockdown a few days before Christmas personally I think would be disproportionate.’
Prof McVernon said at this stage the virus appears to be ‘pretty well geographically contained’ to the northern beaches.
Other public health alert venues announced on Monday
Anyone who was at the following venues on the dates and times below is a close contact, and should get tested immediately and self-isolate for 14 days regardless of the result:
Cortex Gym – Strength and Conditioning Class, Alexandria, Tuesday, 15 December
Avalon Beach RSL Club, Friday, 11 December, Monday, 14 December, Tuesday, 15 December, Wednesday, 16 December (1pm-midnight) or Wednesday, 16 December (Opening time to 1pm)
United Cinemas, Avalon Beach, Tuesday, 15 December from 12pm-2.15pm
BodyFit Gym, Blacktown, Wednesday 16 December from 7am-8am, Thursday 17 December from 7am-8am, Friday 18 December from 7am-8am
Park House Hotel, Mona Vale, Wednesday, 16 December from 8.00pm-10pm
Pilates KX, Mona Vale, Monday, 14 December from 7pm-9pm
The Boatshed Cafe & Bar, Narrabeen, Monday, 14 December from 2pm-3pm
Sankaku Izakaya Newport, Thursday, 17 December from 2.30pm-3.30pm
Lovat Restaurant, Newport, Tuesday, 15 December from 6.30pm-8.30pm
London Hotel, Paddington, Thursday, 17 December from 8.15pm-9.30pm
Paragon Hotel, Sports Bar, Sydney, Wednesday, 16 December from 12.45pm-3.30pm. People who visited the Sports Bar for over an hour are close contacts, those who briefly visited should get tested immediately, and those who visited bar should monitor for symptoms.
Warriewood Headland Private Tennis Court (inside clubhouse and outside on courts), Monday, 14 December from 9.30am-12pm
United Cinemas Warriewood, Tuesday, 15 December from 12pm-2.30pm
Anyone who attended one of the following venues at the times specified is asked to immediately get tested and isolate until NSW Health provides further information:
The House Nail Salon, Avalon, Monday, 14 December from 10.30am-11.30am
Woolworths, Avalon, Tuesday, 15 December from 7.00pm-7.30pm
Rowland Reserve Dog Park, Bayview , Wednesday, 16 December from 4pm-5pm
Gordon USA Nails, Gordon, Thursday, 17 December from 12.30pm-1.30pm
Newport Lovat Restaurant, Friday, 11 December from 6.30pm-8.30pm
Newport Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, Wednesday, 16 December from 5pm-6pm
Newport Shot Lab, Tuesday, 15 December from 11am-12pm
Macquarie Park Premier Academy League Under 8s Macquarie University Soccer Fields, Sunday, 13 December from 9am-11am
Palm Beach Pronto Creative Foods, Wednesday, 16 December from 7.30am-8.30am Thursday, 17 December from 7.30am-8.30am
Warriewood Square, Tuesday, 15 December from 3.30pm-4.30pm, Wednesday, 16 December from 11am-12.15pm Thursday, 17 December from 11am-3pm
Anyone who has attended any of the following venues should get tested immediately and isolate pending results:
The Anglers Rest, Brooklyn, Thursday 17 December from 5.30pm to 7.15pm
Paddington Alimentari, Thursday 17 December from 5.30am to 6pm, Friday 18 December from 5.30am to 6pm, Saturday 19 December from 5.30am to 6pm
Arthouse Hotel, Sydney, Thursday 17 December from 11.15am to 12.15pm
McDonald’s Restaurant, Warriewood, Thursday 17 December from 11.15am to 12.15pm
Warriewood Square, Tuesday 8 December from 12.30pm to 2.15pm
But Prof Raina MacIntyre, from UNSW Kirby Institute, said waiting until Wednesday to assess the situation and announce further restrictions is ‘too late’.
‘We want to reduce transmission as much as possible we should be having a Sydney-wide lockdown today and then reviewing it on Thursday. That will greatly reduce transmission,’ she said.
Meanwhile, Scott Morrison said he believes northern beaches locals’ reluctance to leave their region, regardless of a pandemic, will help contain the virus.
‘Those of you who know Sydney well know that the peninsula is a very cohesive community that tends to keep to itself, a bit like the (Sutherland) Shire down where I’m from,’ he said on Monday.
‘And that is certainly assisting in making sure that the Avalon outbreak is staying exactly where it is.
‘As we go into these next few days, we will be watching carefully as we endeavour to understand whether there has been further seeding, or any seeding I should say — there hasn’t been at this point — in other parts of the city.’
Chief health officer Paul Kelly agreed with the prime minister’s sentiment, and said locals on the northern beaches, dubbed the ‘insular peninsula,’ tend to stay in their own bubble.
‘So all of the cases so far, all of them, the 83 locally acquired cases that have happened since the December 17 in New South Wales have been linked back to the cluster,’ he said.
NSW recorded 15 new coronavirus infections on Monday – all linked to the northern beaches cluster
People wearing masks are seen at the Apple Store in Bondi Junction on December 21
A record 38,000 people across the state got tested on Sunday with results expected to come in between 24 and 72 hours later, meaning case numbers could rise on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said some patients caught the virus outside the northern beaches but all cases have been linked back to two events at the Avalon RSL and the Avalon Bowlo last week.
In an update on Monday afternoon, state health authorities revealed five cases confirmed in a CBD workplace have been linked to the Avalon cluster.
However, the five office workers who caught the virus from an infected person associated with the Avalon cluster at their office Christmas party are not from the area, nor have they been there – proving Covid has not been contained to the northern beaches.
Dr Chant said there has been seeding events where people have gone from being exposed in the Northern Beaches and travelled to other parts of the CBD, south-eastern Sydney, the broader northern Sydney area.
‘We have seen transmission event in a workplace in the CBD – again linked by somebody who had unknowingly brought that into that workplace,’ she told reporters on Monday.
NSW COVID-19 restrictions
NSW Health restrictions until midnight on Wednesday. NSW Cabinet will review restrictions on Wednesday.
RULES FOR GREATER SYDNEY, CENTRAL COAST AND WOLLONGONG:
* Household gatherings limited to 10 visitors
* One person per four square metre rule for all indoor settings, including hospitality venues and places of worship.
* A cap of 300 people for hospitality venues and places of worship.
* Singing in indoor venues restricted to a maximum of five performers indoors, provided they are 1.5m from one another and at least five metres from the audience who are not allowed to sing.
* Dancefloors are banned, except for weddings, when a maximum of 20 from the wedding party will be permitted.
* A maximum of 10 people are permitted in holiday homes and short-term rentals unless everyone is from the same household.
* However, for premises that had already been rented out to more than 10 people before 21 December, the people can continue to stay there.
* People urged not to visit residential aged care facilities, disability services or vulnerable people unless it is critical.
* People advised to wear masks in indoor settings such as shops and hospitality venues, in line with advice already issued to those in the northern beaches.
NORTHERN BEACHES RESIDENTS REQUIRED TO STAY HOME UNLESS:
* travelling to work or an educational institution if working or studying from home is not possible
* seeking medical care
* providing carer’s responsibilities and meeting compassionate needs.
* It is strongly recommended masks are worn when leaving isolation for these permitted reasons.