Hundreds of thousands of people will be confined to metropolitan Sydney as states harden borders with NSW and force mass travel cancellations.
Authorities moved quickly on Wednesday to suppress the rapid spread of the highly infectious Delta variant after the Bondi cluster blew out to 31.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian imposed immediate restrictions for Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour.
“Please abandon non-essential activities, please don’t attend social gatherings unless you absolutely must,” the premier said on Wednesday.
Later, during parliament’s Question Time, the premier warned the government “will not hesitate to go further and harder if we have to”.
The spike in infections is a huge blow for families as states harden their borders just two days before public schools break for two weeks.
WA closed its border to NSW entirely, while SA also closed its border with some exceptions and established a 100km border buffer zone.
Tasmania has banned travellers who aren’t Tasmanian residents from the seven declared Sydney hotspots, while Queensland will lock out anyone from Greater Sydney, Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour.
Victoria had already banned people from the “hot zones” and mandated that Victorians returning home from those areas must quarantine for a fortnight.
New Zealand has paused its travel bubble with NSW after a person infected with the virus flew from Sydney to Wellington and back.
According to a report by The Guardian, Dean Long, Accommodation Association chief executive, said in the hours after NSW announced 16 new Covid cases and other states tightened their borders, there were “mass cancellations” reported.
He said Queensland’s tourism operators were hit particularly hard, with Sydney residents who had planned to escape cold weather over the school holiday fortnight cancelling “thousands of bookings in a couple of hours”.
School holiday occupancy rates in Cairns and the Gold Coast have dropped by about 60% since Wednesday morning.
“We don’t want the virus to spread to the regions,” Ms Berejiklian said.
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