‘Chaos and panic’ in Fairfield as ‘genuinely sick LEAVE testing lines’ after queuing for hours
The NSW government is expected to extend a lockdown for Greater Sydney as thousands of essential workers in the city’s south west struggle to get tested for COVID-19, with some waiting up to six hours.
People in the Fairfield local government area, which is the new epicentre of the outbreak, were waiting in their cars in queues stretching for kilometres to get tested at a showground.
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The rush came after the state government on Tuesday announced new restrictions for essential workers who must now get tested every three days if they work outside the area.
Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone says the new rules have created bedlam at testing sites in the area due to the sudden influx.
“We support more testing, but only with the right resources,” he said.
“Congratulations Gladys, you have done our city a disservice and just stopped any person that doesn’t work outside the area, who genuinely has symptoms and needs a test, from getting tested.
“I have been notified that some residents that are genuinely sick have left the lines after 1 and half hours and returned home.
“Our testing clinics are in chaos and panic tonight and this cannot go on for days without the proper resources.”
The local community had already responded to the government’s calls to get tested, he said.
Anyone from Greater Sydney travelling to the regions for work must be tested weekly, but those workers have until Saturday until the order is policed.
Meanwhile, NSW Health has flagged 30 more venues of concern visited by people with COVID-19.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is expected to announce the lockdown for Greater Sydney and surrounding regions, currently in its third week, will drag on for weeks after Friday, after more financial support for workers and businesses was announced on Tuesday.
The state government expanded a business grants program and will cut or defer payroll taxes for most companies, while workers who have lost eight or more hours a week as a result of the lockdown will be able to apply for up to $600 per week in federal support.
NSW recorded 89 new local coronavirus cases on Tuesday, following 112 new local infections on Monday and 77 on Sunday.
The increase in workers’ payments kicks in once a lockdown exceeds 21 days.
Berejiklian said the support would give people a “breather” to follow the health advice.
The National Retail Association welcomed the support package as businesses “bleed $1 billion a week in lost sales during lockdown”.
Tourism, transport, restaurant and hotel groups also welcomed the relief.
The union covering retail, fast food and warehouse workers, SDA NSW, said frontline retail workers should be given priority access to vaccines, like teachers have.
UnionsNSW said the relief didn’t “go fair enough” because the payments were too small and there was no paid pandemic or vaccine leave.
The government has also extended support to allow rough sleepers access temporary accommodation and a moratorium on evictions for commercial and residential tenants.
Most of Tuesday’s new cases were in the city’s southwest, while 20 were in the southeast or inner city.
Two people have died – a man in his 70s and a woman in her 90s – talking the NSW tally to 57 and the national death toll to 912 since the pandemic began began last year.