NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced a raft of new restrictions for Greater Sydney today, including answering long-held calls for mandatory mask-wearing.
From midnight on Saturday, anyone picking up groceries, working out, going to the movies or going to places of worship in Greater Sydney will be forced to wear a mask.
Greater Sydney includes the regions of Central Coast, Wollongong and Nepean Blue Mountains, which the NSW Government has bundled together.
Maximum capacity for several places, including big-ticket events and weddings have also been slashed.
Here’s what you need to know.
Where do I have to wear a mask?
People inside shopping centres and supermarkets will be forced to wear a mask from midnight tonight.
Commuters catching trains, buses, ferries or any other sort of public transport will not be allowed on board without a mask.
People who attend places of worship, like churches, mosques and synagogues will also need to wear a mask.
Anyone headed to catch a flick at the cinema or watch a theatre production will need to don a mask too.
Staff at hospitality venues like cafes, bars, restaurants, pubs or clubs will also be subject to mandatory masks.
Patrons will not need to wear a mask, unless they are using the gaming services.
Anyone heading to hair or beauty appointments must wear a mask, including staff.
If you are in Greater Sydney, non-compliance will result in a $200 on-the-spot fine, enforceable from Monday.
Children under 12 don’t have to wear masks, but it’s good if they can.
What else has changed today?
The maximum amount of people allowed to gather when working out, heading to sporting events and when mourning has also changed.
Gym classes must comprise of up to 30 people, down from the previous maximum of 50.
Places of worship can only welcome 100 people, or one person per 4 square metres, whichever comes first — down from 300.
Weddings and funerals will only be allowed to have 100 people in attendance, or one person per 4 square metres.
Performances that take place outdoors can have 500 people in attendance, like outdoor cinemas, for instance — reduced down from 1,000.
Venues which are seated, ticketed and enclosed — like big sporting events — have been reduced back to a maximum capacity of 2,000 people.
Despite the 2,000 person cap, the NSW Premier expects the cricket Test will go ahead on Thursday.
Night clubs are not permitted to operate.
Why are there new restrictions if there are low cases?
This morning, NSW Health reported seven new coronavirus cases, with five already traced to known clusters.
Sydney’s outbreak, which began early December, has now topped more than 170 cases, including several in other states.
But Ms Berejiklian said tightening restrictions was the only way stem the spread of COVID-19 in Sydney, which was originally contained only to the northern beaches.
Sydney-based epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws told the ABC she supported mandating masks, describing them as crucial in a “bundling approach” along with social distancing and hand-washing.
“Masks should be worn when you cannot keep your distance and when infections are going up in number or are consistently stubborn in the community,” she said.
“And so it is really good news that NSW is doing this because it will help, particularly as they say, indoors.”
Professor McLaws said the new restrictions were largely precautionary and ultimately could safeguard NSW from a surge in cases similar to Melbourne’s second wave.
“The last time we were at this level in July, it took over 100 days to get to zero,” she said.
“If you’re not going to have a lockdown, then have mandatory masks.”