NSW has reported 415 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and four more people have died as the whole state continues in lockdown. At least 66 of those people were circulating in the community for all or part of their infectious period, with 273 under investigation.
All of NSW entered a seven-day lockdown on early Saturday evening, with police handed stronger powers to enforce regulations. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian described Saturday's numbers as "a welcome drop" with much more work to be done.
NSW Police indicated it would from Monday be out in full force in affected local government areas, with officers able to impose fines of up to $5000 for breaching health orders. Some 800 ADF personnel will also be out on the streets.
The lockdown was announced after rising numbers in regional areas and virus fragments were found in sewage systems in places with no known cases. The enhanced police measures were implemented not for public health reasons but to help officers police lockdown measures, Ms Berejiklian said on Saturday.
Police Minister David Elliott says every officer in NSW is now compelled to ensure lockdown compliance. "From Tweed Heads to Albury," he told the Nine Network.
The Australian Medical Association had implored NSW to lock down the whole state, saying the health system could no longer manage the increase in COVID-19 case numbers. "Our already fragile rural and regional health system will be unable to cope with increases in cases," AMA NSW President Danielle McMullen said in a statement.
Restrictions also tighten in Greater Sydney from next week, with exercise restricted to five kilometres from home, down from 10 for some parts. Ms Berejiklian also announced that people in Greater Sydney will need a permit to travel to regional NSW and single people will need to register their "singles buddies".
In newly-locked down regional areas, people must only leave their residence for an essential reason. Everyone must carry masks at all times, no visitors are allowed in the home unless for carers' responsibilities or for compassionate reasons, and those in a relationship.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said he hoped the regional NSW lockdown would not persist for longer than seven days. Meanwhile, the federal government has announced rapid antigen testing will be progressively rolled out in residential aged care facilities across Greater Sydney. This would ensure more regular resident and visitor testing.
"Given the rate at which we know the Delta variant can be spread between people, the very fast turnaround of RAT - around 15 minutes - makes these tests useful in preventing asymptomatic transmission and outbreaks as they can be used on a daily basis," Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
Ms Berejiklian has previously stated a goal of six million vaccinations by month's end. More than five million jabs have been administered in NSW to date.
AAP with The Project