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NSW Premier admits to 'scariest time' but resists moving to lock down Sydney

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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is resisting any move toward putting Sydney into lockdown as new COVID-19 cases continue to mount and her own health minister, Brad Hazzard, revealed he was self isolating after another minister tested positive to the virus.

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NSW Parliament will be suspended after NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall’s positive test.

Premier Berejiklian said NSW was in the “scariest” period since the pandemic began, but ruled out further restrictions for now.

The premier told reporters that she and Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant were of equal view on the risk facing the state.

She also confirmed that she had tested negative for the virus on Thursday after being in the same room as Adam Marshall on Tuesday night at parliament house.

As NSW MPs were being test en masse, the virus was also causing  upheaval at federal parliament with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce returning to the House of Representatives chamber after concerns he may have been a close contact of a person with coronavirus.

Leader of the House Peter Dutton on Thursday advised MPs Joyce was not attending Question Time while he sought medical advice.

But just minutes later Joyce entered the chamber to take up his position in the prime minister’s usual seat.

Marshall says he contracted the virus after dining at Christo’s Pizza in Paddington on Monday night with three other MPs, with the restaurant now declared a virus exposure site.

The minister confirmed he had gone into isolation on Tuesday night when advised of the potential exposure at the hotspot.

The parliament will operate on a skeleton staff on Thursday with just enough MPs to pass the budget before it’s suspended.

Hazzard also revealed he is self isolating after being exposed to a potential case and said there was a ‘clear danger’ it had spread to other MPs..

Hazzard was exposed at NSW Parliament House but was not experiencing any symptoms.

Hazzard admitted it “was likely” other MPs could be affected and told Channel Nine he stands next to Premier Gladys Berejiklian every day.

“I think the premier is fairly safe. From my point of view at the moment obviously I have a tricky situation,” he said.

Speaking on 2GB, Opposition leader Chris Minns said he would not deliver his budget reply speech on Thursday and parliament had been reduced to a skeleton staff with MPs told to tell their staff to stay home.

“All sides agree now is not the time for politics … we need to get through what is a very difficult health situation in Sydney,” he said.

Parliament will sit with just enough MPs to pass the budget before being suspended for the week.

NSW is likely to reported six more fresh COVID-19 cases on Thursday but Hazzard also played down fears Sydney is on the brink of a lockdown.

“I don’t believe that we will go into a lockdown,” he said.

However, on Wednesday the premier warned “the NSW government will not hesitate to go further and harder if we have to”.

Meanwhile, school holiday plans are in tatters for many Sydney residents, with many confined to the metropolitan area, as NSW struggles to contain a coronavirus cluster that’s blown out to 31 infections.

Berejiklian is urging people to “abandon non-essential activities” after introducing new rules for residents in Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour on Wednesday.

A household guest limit of five, including children, and the four-square-metre rule indoors and outdoors were introduced alongside mandatory masks in all indoor non-residential settings, including workplaces.

NSW Health issued more alerts for COVID-19 exposure sites at a range of venues at Darlinghurst, Double Bay, Bondi Beach, Bondi Junction, Narellan, Meadowbank and the Sydney CBD.

NSW Health figures show there were 18 new cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, 13 of which were announced earlier.

There were another six cases detected after the 8pm cut off which will be included in Friday’s official tally.

This means there’s a total of 11 new cases linked to the outbreak that began in Bondi last week.

A Victorian man has also tested positive for COVID-19 after flying from Sydney to Melbourne.

Residents who live or work in the City of Sydney, Waverley, Randwick, Canada Bay, Inner West, Bayside, and Woollahra local government areas cannot travel outside the metropolitan area unless it’s absolutely essential.

Masks must also be worn to gym classes, which are now limited to 20 people.

Eight of the additional cases were at a birthday party attended by about 30 people in West Hoxton on Saturday, which NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant described as a “super-spreader event”.

Other states have hardened their borders days before NSW public schools break for two weeks.

WA has closed its border to NSW for anyone who had been in the state since June 11 or in the 14 days prior to travel.

SA has also closed its border with NSW, excluding a 100km buffer zone for cross border communities.

Tasmania has declared seven Sydney local government areas as high risk.

Queensland has closed its border to people from Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour.

Victoria has also already banned people from the seven “hot zones”.

New Zealand has paused its travel bubble with NSW.

 

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