NSW has recorded 97 new local COVID-19 cases, prompting the government to extend a lockdown in Greater Sydney and its surrounds by at least two more weeks. The stay-at-home provisions, which were scheduled to end on Friday, will now remain in place until at least July 30.
The state's schools will also continue with online learning. Of the 97 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases recorded in the 24 hours to 8 pm on Tuesday, at least 31 were in the community during part or all of their infectious period.
"(That's) what we need to get down to as close to zero as possible," Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Wednesday. Restriction settings across regional NSW remain unchanged. It comes after the state and federal governments on Tuesday afternoon revealed an extensive financial support package.
The state government expanded a business grants program and will cut or defer payroll taxes for most companies, while workers who have lost eight or more hours a week as a result of the lockdown will be able to apply for up to $600 per week in federal support.
The increase in workers' payments kicks in once a lockdown exceeds 21 days. Ms Berejiklian said an extension to lockdown provisions was inevitable given the extent of COVID-19 spread in the community. She said the government would continue to prioritise aged care workers and teachers in southwest Sydney for vaccination.
"Of course we want to see this lockdown end in a timely way ... (but) we'll have that support for businesses," Ms Berejiklian said. There are currently 20 COVID-19 patients in NSW in intensive care, with four ventilated.
Meanwhile, thousands of essential workers in the city's southwest are struggling to get mandatory COVID-19 tests, with some waiting up to six hours. People in the Fairfield local government area were on Tuesday waiting in their cars in queues stretching for kilometres to get tested at a showground.
The rush came after the state government announced new restrictions for essential workers who must now get tested every three days if they work outside the area. Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone said the new rules created bedlam at testing sites in the area.
"It's chaos," Mr Carbone told the Nine Network. "These are people that want to get tested, these are doctors and nurses, people that help our community, they work far and wide and these are essential workers.
"The mandated plan, where people need to get tested two times a week, once every three days, was very badly thought out." People who wanted to get tested but who could not afford to wait six hours in a queue had gone home, Mr Carbone said.
"I don't think (the government) understood the magnitude of it and I don't think they understood the amount of essential workers we have in Fairfield," he said. Anyone from Greater Sydney travelling to the regions for work must be tested weekly, but these workers have until Saturday before the order is policed.
Meanwhile, NSW Health has flagged 30 more venues of concern visited by people with COVID-19. Two people have died - a man in his 70s and a woman in her 90s - talking the NSW tally to 57 and the national death toll to 912 since the pandemic began last year.