NSW has recorded seven new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases and set another record for the number of tests done in a 24-hour period.
The seven new cases identified in the 24 hours to 8pm on Christmas Eve are all connected to the northern beaches, and six were already in isolation, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Friday.
Four cases are part of the Avalon cluster, bringing the total number of cases in it to 108. Two live with another case, whose source of infection is still under investigation. Another case is still under investigation, but the person works in the northern beaches and has transport exposure.
The cases were identified from almost 70,000 tests on Thursday, breaking Wednesday’s record of 61,084 tests.
Ms Berejiklian and NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant reiterated their concern about possible transmission in the Sydney CBD after a number of cases were associated with Circular Quay’s Paragon Hotel Sports Bar.
Ms Berejiklian discouraged Sydneysiders from going to the CBD, especially for the traditional Boxing Day sales, while acknowledging it was “not the easiest message to give to those retailers”. She implored anyone who goes go to wear a mask.
Health authorities are also asking patrons of Paddington Alimentari in Sydney’s east to be particularly alert, after another case was linked to the venue, bringing the total of linked cases to four. All dined there between December 17 and 19.
Meanwhile, Sydneysiders are having a quieter than usual Christmas Day with the size of family gatherings restricted due to the northern beaches COVID-19 cluster and authorities warning against complacency.
Northern beaches residents north of the Narrabeen Bridge may host a maximum of five visitors, but they must all live in the local area.
South of the Narrabeen Bridge, in suburbs such as Dee Why and Manly, northern beaches residents may host up to 10 visitors at their homes but are not permitted to leave the area for gatherings elsewhere.
Across the rest of Greater Sydney, people may host 10 other people in their homes, as well as an unlimited number of children aged under 12.
Large gatherings are still permitted in regional NSW.
But people across NSW have been warned not to be complacent over the Christmas holiday and to limit travel or social contact as much as possible and get tested if they have any symptoms.
Testing and pathology staff numbers have been ramped up this week ing had been ramped up, shortening queues and the turnaround for results in Sydney.
NSW Health late on Thursday afternoon issued “close contact” health alerts for Glorietta Restaurant and Bar in North Sydney and Massage Link in the Marketplace Leichhardt shopping centre.
Elsewhere, the Northern Territory has reopened to people travelling from Greater Sydney.
Its the first state or territory to do so since the emergence of the northern beaches cluster.
However, northern beaches residents remain locked out of the Top End for now.