Greater Sydney, Wollongong, the Blue Mountains and the Central Coast have been plunged into a two-week lockdown by the State Government in a bid to stop the march of the highly-infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus through the population.
The extraordinary action not seen since the first days of the outbreak last year, was announced after an emergency NSW Cabinet meeting on Saturday afternoon.
New restrictions have also been introduced for regional NSW.
The lockdown starts at 6pm on Saturday and will end in two weeks. Within minutes of the announcement panic buying was reported in supermarkets.
The statement from the Premier Gladys Berejiklian's office said:
"To protect the people of NSW from the evolving COVID-19 outbreak, current stay-at-home orders will be extended across all of Greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong from 6pm today (26 June) until 11.59pm Friday, 9 July.
"Following updated health advice from the Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant about the growing risk to the community, the stay-at-home orders will apply to all people in the Greater Sydney including Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong.
"Everyone in Greater Sydney must stay at home unless it is for an essential reason.
"The reasons you may leave your home include:
"Shopping for food or other essential goods and services;
"Medical care or compassionate needs (people can leave home to have a COVID-19 vaccination unless you have been identified as a close contact);
"Exercise outdoors in groups of 10 or fewer;
"Essential work, or education, where you cannot work or study from home."
IN OTHER NEWS:
The release said that community sport will not be permitted during this period. Weddings will not be permitted from 11.59pm, Sunday 27 June. Funerals will be limited to one person per four square metres with a cap of 100 people, and masks must be worn indoors.
New rules for regional NSW were announced: "In all other parts of NSW the following restrictions will apply:
"People who have been in the Greater Sydney region (including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong) on or after June 21 should follow the stay-at-home orders for a period of 14 days after they left Greater Sydney.
"Visitors to households will be limited to 5 guests - including children;
"Masks will be compulsory in all indoor non-residential settings, including workplaces, and at organised outdoor events;
"Drinking while standing at indoor venues will not be allowed;
"Singing by audiences and choirs at indoor venues or by congregants at indoor places of worship will not be allowed;
"Dancing will not be allowed at indoor hospitality venues or nightclubs however, dancing is allowed at weddings for the wedding party only (no more than 20 people);
"Dance and gym classes limited to 20 per class (masks must be worn);
"The one person per four square metre rule will be re-introduced for all indoor and outdoor settings, including weddings and funerals;
"Outdoor seated, ticketed events will be limited to 50 per cent seated capacity;
"We have always indicated we will not hesitate to go further with restrictions to protect the people of NSW.
"We understand this is a difficult time for everyone, however we need to take these steps now to get on top of this outbreak.
"People across NSW should only enter Greater Sydney for essential purposes."
Meantime Ag Minister Adam Marshall said he was in bed and suffering badly in a Sydney apartment after contracting the virus in a Sydney pizza restaurant.
He warned his Northern Tablelands electorate "not to come to Sydney".