Northern beaches Covid restrictions: what they mean for locals and everyone else in Sydney


As the northern beaches Covid-19 cluster grows, New South Wales authorities have issued a range of advice to residents and visitors to the area aimed at containing the community spread.

Several states have also announced border restrictions in response to the outbreak.

So, what can and can’t residents do and what does the cluster mean for the rest of Sydney?

What are the new restrictions?

If you’re not trying to leave NSW, you are only required to self-isolate if you have been to a location visited by someone who has tested positive to coronavirus.

While authorities are most concerned about anyone who visited Avalon RSL club on 11 December and Avalon Bowlo on 13 December from 5pm to 7pm and on 15 December from 3pm to 5pm, the list of venues visited by known Covid-19 cases is growing.

On Friday, NSW Health added more than 20 new locations, with several venues outside the northern beaches, as contact tracers continue interviewing new cases.

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If I receive a negative test while in isolation, do I have to continue for the full 14 days?

If you visited one of the venues where you were deemed a close contact, which includes the Avalon RSL and Avalon Bowlo, as well as other locations here, you need to remain in isolation at home for 14 days after you were there, regardless of the outcome of your test.

If you visited one of the venues where you were considered a casual contact, you must self-isolate while you wait for your test results. If you receive a negative test result, then you are no longer required to continue self-isolating.

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I live on the northern beaches – can I leave my home for any reason?

Preferably not. NSW health authorities have urged all residents from the Spit to Palm Beach to stay at home until 20 December.

However, the directive is advice, not a public health order. This means it is not being enforced by police, and you will not be fined for leaving home.

NSW Health states the stay-at-home directive “includes working from home where possible, not visiting friends or family in aged care facilities or hospitals unless essential, avoiding unnecessary gatherings and high-risk venues such as clubs, restaurants, places of worships and gyms, and avoiding unnecessary travel outside of or to the northern beaches area”.

As the directive is not a public health order, there is no set list of essential reasons allowing residents to leave their home. At a press conference on Friday morning, the NSW chief health officer, Kerry Chant, said northern beaches residents should use common sense in determining if their reason for leaving home was essential.

The premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said on Friday that all Sydney residents should be on high alert.

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Do I have to wear a mask?

On Friday afternoon, NSW Health issued a “strong advisory” for all people in the northern beaches local government area to wear a mask at all times when indoors.

For those in the northern beaches, masks should be worn in shopping centres and supermarkets, workplaces, and healthcare and aged care facilities, and on public transport. However, you are not expected to wear a mask in your home, or when there is a relevant medical reason. Young people unable to tolerate mask use are also not expected to wear masks.

The mask advisory will be in place until the afternoon of Monday 21 December, but it is only an advisory and not being enforced by police.

The premier also wants anyone going to busy indoor venues in Greater Sydney or catching public transport to wear a mask.

“Nobody should be getting on public transport without a mask, nobody in Greater Sydney should be going to a supermarket or place of worship or other high-risk areas without a mask,” she said on Friday.

“It would be crazy if people are undertaking those activities without a mask.”

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Can I go to the northern beaches to visit a friend or go shopping?

Not really. NSW health authorities have asked that no one travel to the area, except for essential purposes. However, again, this is not being enforced by police, and there is no list of approved reasons for travelling there.

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I live elsewhere in NSW but have visited the northern beaches since 11 December. What should I do?

Check the NSW Health list of venues visited by confirmed Covid cases to determine if you need to self-isolate right away.

If you haven’t been to any of those places, you don’t need to do anything. However, if you develop symptoms, immediately get tested and self-isolate.

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Can I still go swimming at a beach in the northern beaches?

Only at your own risk. Northern beaches council and Surf Lifesaving NSW will only maintain emergency surveillance at beaches in the area over the weekend. Flags will not be put up at any beaches.

If you live outside the northern beaches but have entered only to go swimming since 11 December, this will have implications if you plan to travel interstate.

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I have visited the northern beaches since 11 December but have returned to another state where I live. Do I have to self-isolate?

Yes – if you have returned to Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania or the ACT, you are required to self-isolate. More details on these restrictions are listed here.

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Can I travel to another state if I’ve stayed or visited the northern beaches?

Several jurisdictions have declared the northern beaches a hotspot and introduced strict rules for travellers who live on the northern beaches or people that have visited since 11 December.

The strictest rules have been imposed by Western Australia, which requires anyone from NSW to go into hotel quarantine. Queensland will require self-paid hotel quarantine for arrivals from the northern beaches from 1am Saturday 19 December.

Victoria has barred northern beaches entrants and set up a permit system for those from the rest of Sydney.

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