Thousands of residents in western Sydney suburbs with low rates of Covid transmission and high vaccination rates could be released from tougher lockdowns – but more virus-hit suburbs could take their place.
State Liberal MPs have urged the NSW government to exclude suburbs from the 12 LGAs of concern if they can maintain high vaccination rates and low case numbers.
A government review will look at alternatives to locking down entire government areas and consider a suburb-by-suburb approach, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Thousands of residents in western Sydney suburbs with low rates of Covid transmission and high vaccination rates could be released from their tougher lockdown. Pictured are residents in Burwood in Sydney’s inner-west
The review comes as first-dose coverage rates hit 81 per cent in Blacktown in the city’s west on Monday and 90 per cent in Burwood in the inner-west.
The percentage of Burwood residents who have had at least one Covid-19 jab is 66 per cent higher than it was two months ago.
Liberal member for Riverstone Kevin Conolly said it was unfair his electorate in north-west Sydney was still included in the Blacktown LGA hotspot when the rate of transmission there was less than southern parts of the government area.
‘I think it’s time for the suburbs of northern Blacktown to be released because case numbers are coming down,’ he said.
New modelling though from the Burnet Institute has showed the harsher restrictions in the city’s west and south-west contributed most to the slowing spread of the virus – rather than rising vaccination rates.
The research found case numbers in other parts of Sydney were now higher than in hotspots subject to night curfews and stricter restrictions on travel.
Suburbs such as Redfern and Waterloo have not been named as Covid-19 hotspots despite rates of transmission continuing to rise in those areas.
Pictured is a queue outside a Covid-19 pop-up vaccination clinic at Ashfield in Sydney’s inner-west on September 10
Police are pictured in Bankstown in Sydney’s Covid-hit south-western suburbs on Sunday morning
The revelation came as Premier Gladys Berejiklian copped a grilling from angry mayors in the Harbour City’s 12 LGAs of concern.
The NSW premier agreed to host rolling virtual meetings with the mostly Labor mayors on Tuesday to hear their concerns about the current lockdown restrictions – and even agreed to seek health advice about reopening their pools.
But the ‘heated’ discussion didn’t exactly go to plan for the embattled Liberal leader, with the group labelling the talks a ‘PR stunt’ and accusing her of sowing further ‘divide’ between the east and western suburbs.
‘We raised… concerns about the different discrimination that we’re feeling in the areas of concern, where the meeting got a little bit heated,’ Canterbury-Bankstown Mayor Khal Asfour told the ABC.
Of the 1127 new Covid cases recorded on Tuesday, more than half were detected in Sydney’s 12 hotspot areas
‘[The Premier’s] answer to that was she was trying to protect everybody… but we just think it could’ve been done a different way.’
He argued the highly controversial curfews must be removed for the sake of shift workers and explained how residents are ‘sick and tired’ of police helicopters surveilling their communities.
While Mr Asfour said the premier took their discussion to heart and jotted down ‘copious notes,’ others participants were not so kind.
The 12 LGAs of concern which have seen higher Covid case numbers are subject to harsher restrictions than the rest of Sydney (pictured, Lakemba in the Canterbury-Bankstown LGA)
Cumberland Mayor Steve Christou said Ms Berejiklian who denied the mayors a similar meeting two weeks ago, was merely ‘paying us lip service’ and called the virtual chat a ‘PR stunt’.
‘The Premier listened to our concerns and I gave her a reality check about what is really going on in Cumberland and the shocking impact it is having on our residents and businesses,’ he said.
‘She continues to hide behind the health advice and could not offer any solutions or concessions to afford our residents the same opportunities as those in the east and other areas.’