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Mandatory masks and new COVID cases in NSW

NSW has reported seven new cases of COVID-19 community transmission while greater restrictions have been imposed and masks will soon be mandatory for some indoor settings in Sydney.

Residents in the southern half of the northern beaches are now considered part of greater Sydney while stay-at-home orders applying to residents north of the Narrabeen Bridge will continue until at least January 9.

Five of these new cases are from western and south-western Sydney and are linked to the Berala cluster, which now totals seven with the original source of infection a man in his 40s.

From midnight on Saturday masks will be mandatory in shopping centres, on public transport, in entertainment venues such as a cinema, and fines will come into effect on Monday.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the move balanced the health risk while providing security to citizens but allowed businesses to continue operating.

“On that basis, we are keen to make sure economic activity continues,” Ms Berejiklian said on Saturday.

One new source of infection is under investigation after 32,000 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday.

Three cases of community transmission were reported on Friday while the state government is still urging western Sydney residents from Greystanes, Auburn, Berala and Lidcombe with even the mildest of symptoms to get tested.

NSW Health expanded its list of exposure sites on Friday evening, saying anyone who visited BWS in Berala between 22 and 31 December must get tested immediately and isolate.

Meanwhile, Victoria has officially shut its border to NSW overnight after the decision announced on Thursday prompted a scramble for holiday-makers rushing to get home.

The ACT has also updated restrictions from midday on Saturday requiring anyone travelling to the state from a COVID-19 hotspot in NSW to provide an exemption.

People from Sydney’s northern beaches, Greater Sydney, the Central Coast and Wollongong will not be legally permitted to enter the ACT without a valid pass.

NSW Health has also put out an exposure alert for shoppers who visited menswear store Culture Kings in Sydney between 1pm and 2pm on Monday, December 28.

Health authorities were relieved to announce a mystery source that sparked the Croydon cluster and two cases in Wollongong was found to be linked to the Avalon cluster revealed by genetic testing.

Other alerts include Bunnings in Ashfield on December 28, Woolworths at Strathfield Plaza on December 20, Woolworths at Berala on December 24, 26, 28, and Haberfield’s Clark Rubber on December 28.

Two coronavirus cases from Victoria travelled to the NSW south coast on December 30 prompting notifications in Eden and Bermagui.

Patrons who dined at the Swallowed Anchor restaurant in Wollongong on December 19 have been urgently called after one case from Croydon and another from the local area both attended on that date.

On Friday evening the Tasmanian government announced NSW’s Wollongong Local Government Area would join Greater Sydney as a medium-risk area from midnight, meaning arrivals from there will have to quarantine for 14 days.

Tasmania classifies Sydney’s northern beaches as a high-risk area, meaning no entry to Tasmania is allowed unless a special exemption is granted.

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