There was confusion for more than 70,000 NSW residents on Saturday afternoon after mixed messaging raised doubt over whether stay-at-home orders applied to them.
The City of Shellharbour sits next to Wollongong, and wasn’t specifically referenced in the initial NSW Health lockdown announcement.
However, NSW Health has since confirmed the city is under the stay-at-home order. Residents there can now only leave home for four essential reasons.
They are to study or work where it can’t be done remotely, to seek or give care, to exercise outdoors and to shop for essentials.
Restrictions will be in place until midnight on Friday, July 9.
Earlier on Saturday, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro tweeted that Shellharbour wouldn’t be included in the lockdown.
He later clarified that because of “the work interconnectivity between Wollongong and Shellharbour”, it would actually be impacted.
But with the uncertainty already spread through the community after Barilaro’s tweet, some on social media called the government’s messaging an “absolute debacle”.
“Why spout disinformation without being sure?” another comment read.
Member for Kiama Gareth Ward also confirmed the Shellharbour decision on Twitter, but many replies were questioning if it was “100 percent confirmed”.
“I’m so confused,” one Twitter user added.
There are 74,622 residents in the City of Shellharbour, according to the council’s website.
The snap lockdown comes after another 12 new virus cases were recorded in NSW and exposure venues spread beyond the eastern Sydney hotspots to the northern beaches and western Sydney, where people have potentially been infectious for days.
“The NSW government has always prided itself on taking the expert health advice,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Saturday afternoon.
“We’re never afraid to take a decision that we need to take to keep our citizens safe and even though we don’t want to impose burdens unless we absolutely have to, unfortunately, this is a situation where we have to.
“I said (earlier) that this is the scariest time since the pandemic started and that’s proven to be the case.”
Anyone in NSW who has been to Greater Sydney since June 21 is also being asked to stay at home for the entire lockdown period.
Exercise outdoors is allowed in groups of up to ten, and COVID-safe funerals can proceed with up to 100 people.
Weddings are allowed to go ahead on Saturday and Sunday with restrictions in place, but must be cancelled from Monday onwards.
– with AAP