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Sydney to continue with Covid-19 restrictions for Christmas

Sydney to continue with Covid-19 restrictions for Christmas

People wait at a drive through COVID-19 testing station at a beach in Sydney, Australia. Photo credit: AP

Sydney: Authorities in Sydney have said that the city will continue to have Covid-19 restrictions on social gatherings across Christmas as a measure to curb an outbreak.

Most residents of Australia's biggest city, will still be able to have visitors to their home over the holiday period, but limited to 10 adults per home, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

But in a slight relaxation of rules, young children can be included on top of that number between December 24-26. As a bright sign Sydney saw just eight new cases on Wednesday, fuelling optimism about efforts to contain the outbreak, but the restrictions for Christmas are apparently aimed at preventing an outbreak again.

The New South Wales (NSW) state government said a total of 98 cases had been found in the state capital since last week.

More than 124,000 residents had been tested in the past three days alone - a local record.

There have been almost no locally transmitted cases reported elsewhere in Australia in recent days.

The outbreak was discovered last week in the city's Northern Beaches region, prompting an immediate lockdown of residents.

However, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said officials were still unable to trace how the virus got into the community so a lockdown will continue until Sunday.

"We want to make sure that there aren't strains or lines of community transmission that we haven't found yet," she said on Wednesday.

She revealed that the southern half of that community would be allowed to host 10 visitors for Christmas. In the northern half - where the outbreak began - only five visitors would be permitted.

But residents in both zones were still barred from leaving their local area, she added.

Sydney residents have been told they should not visit nursing homes over Christmas and mask-wearing in public has been encouraged.

They also remain banned from travelling to other states and territories, preventing holiday plans for many families, after restrictions imposed earlier this week.

Queensland, the neighbouring state to the north of NSW, said it had turned away more than 120 people who had tried to cross the border since Tuesday.

Berejiklian has criticised neighbouring states for what she has described as a "disproportionate" response to a localised outbreak in the state capital.

Other areas of NSW - such as regional cities - remain unaffected but some states, such as Western Australia, have banned all NSW residents.

"In NSW, not only are we cautious with our approach, but I think we assess the risk well and then make decisions according to that, unlike some of my other state colleagues who have taken what I think are over-reaching actions," Berejiklian said.

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TAGS:ceasefire violationCovid-19Sydney Australiasocial gatherings
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