Sydney braces for military as 300 army personnel to help enforce Covid-19 lockdown from Monday

·2-min read
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant takes questions during a Covid-19 press conference on Friday (Getty Images)
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant takes questions during a Covid-19 press conference on Friday (Getty Images)

Sydney is bracing itself for the deployment of hundreds of soldiers to help enforce the toughest and longest lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic as infection numbers hold persistently high.

With the city of five million people ordered to stay home amid an outbreak of the highly transmissable Delta variant, authorities outlined even tighter restrictions for the worst affected suburbs, including mandatory testing and mask-wearing outdoors.

From Monday, some 300 Australian army personnel will help police door-knock people who have tested positive to the virus to ensure they are isolating, New South Wales police commissioner Mick Fuller said at a televised news conference.

"The sheer volume of increase over the last week (means) the level of compliance (enforcement) has gone from hundreds into thousands," he said.

The ramped-up military and police presence would cover the breadth of Australia's largest city but mainly eight local government districts in the city's west - home to two million people - where most new cases have been reported.

As the city entered its sixth week of a planned nine-week lockdown, New South Wales state reported 170 new local cases, most in Sydney. Of the new cases, at least 42 spent time in the community while infectious.

While new cases fell, state premier Gladys Berejiklian said the high number of infectious people in the community meant “we are expecting to see those numbers bounce around”.

At the same news conference, state health minister Brad Hazzard said people were waiting too long to get tested after developing symptoms, and that “we are seeing more families coming in with a family member who is presenting not alive but dead”.

Since the outbreak began with an unmasked, unvaccinated airport driver last month, NSW has reported 13 deaths, taking the national total to 923 since the pandemic began.

The epicentre of the outbreak has crossed Sydney from the affluent beachside suburb of Bondi to the western suburbs, where local leaders said residents felt unfairly targeted by the heightened enforcement.

“They’ve got no other ideas than to bring in the military as a last resort because they're lost for answers on issues they created," said Steve Christou, mayor of the Cumberland local government area, where 60 per cent of its 240,000 residents were born overseas.

"They are a poor community, they are a vulnerable community, and they don't deserve these lockdowns or these extended and harsh measures that they have now been targeted with," he added in a telephone interview.

People living in the western suburbs must stay within three miles of home and have a virus test every three days in order to be allowed to do essential work outside the area.

Read More

Sydney residents forced to wear face masks outdoors as army called up

Sydney extends lockdown as police set to crack down on law-breakers

Sydney declares ‘national emergency’ as Delta coronavirus cases rise

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting