As NSW reports its sixth day of single-digit cases, Premier Gladys Berejiklian shared some sobering news during today's update.

Speaking about the chance of future virus clusters, the NSW Premier was blunt in her message that outbreaks will be the new "norm" until Australia has access to a vaccine.

"The best played policies don't prevent these outbreaks from occurring and we should accept this is the norm until there's a vaccine and that's why it's really important for all of us," she told media.

"No matter who restrictions or otherwise are in place to think about what we're doing once we leave the house."

NSW reported seven new cases today, with six of them linked to the cluster which now sits at 122. Restrictions across the northern beaches have also been ramped up again after the brief reprieve during Christmas.

Although the Premier withheld making any New Year's Eve announcements, she urged anyone with even the most mild symptoms to  get tested.

Elsewhere around the state, a video posted on Twitter showed the major shopping centre heaving with shoppers. Although some were wearing masks, the majority were not following social distancing requirements.

The video sparked anger and outrage in the comments with Australians from Victoria and the northern beaches commenting.

This comes as NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard blasted Santa hat-clad backpackers over a massive Christmas Day party at Bronte Beach, saying their actions could be the next "super-spreader event". Speaking to reporters on Saturday, he labelled their actions "appalling" and said it was obvious they "didn't give a damn about the rest of Sydney".

Witnesses said there were around 200 to 300 people "partying in the grass" who had to be dispersed by police at about 5pm on Friday. A 25-year-old man from the party was issued with a court attendance notice after refusing to comply with a move-on order.

Read on for all the latest updates.

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Gladys' bleak virus warning: 'Accept this is the norm'

As NSW reports its sixth day of single-digit cases, Premier Gladys Berejiklian shared some sobering news during today's presser.

Speaking about the chance of future virus clusters, the NSW Premier said the state should "expect outbreaks".

"I can't make any assurances that this won't happen again," she told reporters.

While she said NSW's contact tracing and quarantine systems were "very strong," she warned that the contagious nature of COVID-19 meant that small lapses could result in transmission of the virus.

"Unfortunately thousands of people are dying from this disease all around the world, I think comparably we have done extremely well," she said.

"It's not so much the processes that are there, but it only takes one person to forget or one person to have a lapse in something or unintentionally do something which allows the disease to escape and transmit. That's what we always have to remember."

 

The Premier said NSW will have to remain vigilant to stop the spread of the virus. Picture: NCA Newswire.
The Premier said NSW will have to remain vigilant to stop the spread of the virus. Picture: NCA Newswire.

Instead, she warned Australians should accept this as the new "norm" until we get access to a vaccine.

"The best played policies don't prevent these outbreaks from occurring and we should accept this is the norm until there's a vaccine," she said.

Australia currently has four separate agreements to ensure the supply of the vaccine once it's approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

These include:
- 53.8 million doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine. The vaccine requires two doses, with 3.8 million to arrive from overseas in early 2021 and a further 50 million to be manufactured in Australia by CSL.
- 51 million doses of the two-dose Novavax vaccine throughout 2021.
- 10 million of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine currently being administered in the US and the UK.

Despite this, the TGA has yet to approve any of the above vaccines and isn't slated to make a decision till February.

NSW confirms stance on beach use in the northern beaches

The Twitter account of NSW Health was provided some clarity around whether northern beaches residents are able to visit the local beaches under stay-at-home orders.

The official directive is that yes, they are, with no health orders preventing locals from using the beach for swimming, exercise or recreation.

Despite this, social-distancing restrictions remain. Residents in the northern zone are only able to gather outdoors in groups of five, with that number extended to 10 for those living in the southern zone. Physical distancing of 1.6m should also be encouraged by households.

However NSW Health stipulated residents outside of the area should not be entering the northern beaches for exercise or recreation.

"For people outside the Northern Beaches, you should not enter the Northern Beaches unless you have a reasonable excuse. A reasonable excuse does not include exercise or recreation," they wrote.

Scenes from Manly beach show residents are largely obeying social distancing orders
Scenes from Manly beach show residents are largely obeying social distancing orders

More details on the Melbourne man who fled quarantine

A Victorian man arrested by four police at the Holiday Inn hotel in Tullamarine, Melbourne has been identified as John-Lee Berridge.

The 24-year-old left decided to cut his mandated 14-day isolation period short and left his hotel room without permission at 2.45 on Saturday, December 26.

Speaking to 3AW the man said he has suffering from increased anxiety while in quarantine and felt like it was "going to take over".

"I had told the medical staff, my anxiety is going to take over and I can't control myself, and I'm just going to go out and try to leave until I'm forcibly stopped," he said.

He also claimed he was told he would be allowed to self isolate but was then forced into mandatory quarantine.

His actions mean Mr Berridge could be facing a $19,000 fine for breaching hotel quarantine, however Victorian Police are investigating the incident. He has since been moved to complex care accomodation in the Melbourne CBD for people who require clinical supervision and medical support.

'We may never find the exact source'

Despite consistent contact tracing and testing, the NSW Chief Health Officer has admitted we may never find the exact source of the Avalon cluster.

Dr Kerry Chant said this was because it become difficult to trace the origins of the virus once a patient has recovered.

"When people have very old infection, we sometimes are not able to isolate the virus," she said.

Instead she encouraged NSW residents to continue testing so that "unrecognised chains of transmission" aren't missed.

"That's why it is equally as important for everyone across the state to be getting tested for COVID, for everyone across the state to look every day at the new list of venues and check themselves off against having been a casual or a close contact at those venues and for everyone with the most minimal of symptoms."

Dr Chant also stressed the importance of "COVID-safe practises" like physical distancing and wearing a mask while indoors.

Gladys Berejiklian: 'We should expect outbreaks'

When asked about the possibility of future outbreaks, Gladys Berejiklian bluntly shared her response.

"I can't make any assurances that this won't happen again," she said.

"This is a very contagious disease. And I don't think any Government in any place on the planet can give an assurance that outbreaks won't occur. In fact, I think I said consistently we should expect outbreaks."

She said that returning Australian citizens from overseas could create risk for future outbreaks but New South Wales have a "very, very strong system in place".

"It only takes one person to forget or one person to have a lapse in something or unintentionally do something which then allows the disease to escape and transmit," she said. "That's what we always have to remember. It's extremely, extremely contagious, and it can transfer on surfaces, not just through aerosols."

Dr Chant doubles down on importance on re-testing

Dr Chant said it was critical for people to continue to test and re-test if they begin to exhibit symptoms, even if they haven't been to exposure venues or aren't identified as a close contact.

"When you have one test at one point in time, it just reflects your infectivity at that particular point in time," said Dr Chant.

"This goes to the key point - that just because you're a negative at one point in time, you need to get a retest if symptoms develop."

Avalon cluster linked to US strain

It's believed the Avalon cluster originated from a US strain of COVID-19. While this hasn't been confirmed, serological testing and PCR have largely pointed to the strain being of US origin.

"At this stage the only strain we have identified in the community is the
US-associated strain. But clearly our experts here in New South Wales are watching very closely information around the UK strain and also other parts of the world that are detecting a mutation," said Ms Berejiklian.

Dr Chant also confirmed that the UK strain - believed to be more contagious than the other strains - is not present in the Avalon cluster.

Additional case from Erskineville pub

Another case has been linked to the Rose of Australia Hotel in Erskineville and will be recorded in tomorrow's figures.

Confirmed as a household contact of the case, Ms Berejiklian said this proved why the 14-day isolation period is so critical.

"We are seeing people come forward who develop symptoms that 10 days or so after the exposure, right up to that 14 days," she said.

So please stay in the isolation for that 14 days. Please get a test before you leave isolation."

Bondi mystery case likely 'false positive'

Speaking on the mystery case linked to a Bondi patient in yesterday's numbers, Dr Chant said it was most likely a false positive.

Despite this an expert panel has been convened to review the information around the case.

'Missing link' linked to Belrose Hotel

Speaking about a case linked to the Belrose Hotel from December 23, Dr Chant expressed concern over a "missing link" between a positive case from a man who tested positive on December 23 and today.

"What we're looking at is for the missing link - who else was present
at the Belrose?

"We have asked anyone who was at the Belrose Hotel any time between 12 to 6:00pm on 11 December to get a test. Irrespective of whether you have symptoms or not, please go out and undertake testing.

"If you have been to the Belrose Hotel and have the most minimal of symptoms, please get a test any time in December and even if you historically had an illness that you think in retrospect might have compatible with COVID please get a test and please isolate until
you get that negative test"

One case under investigation

Speaking on the state of the existing cases, Dr Kerry Chant said that the Avalon cluster has now risen to 122 cases.

However the case still under investigation is from a firefighter from the Northern Beaches with links to the Belrose Hotel.

Dr Chant also called for continued testing over the festive period.

"I can't stress enough how important it is that anyone with the most minimal of symptoms across the state, we are at a critical stage in our response and unless we have those high testing rates, it does not give us adequate assurance that we are not missing undetected lines of transmission," she said.

Seven new cases for NSW

Currently speaking, Gladys Berejiklian has announced the state has recorded seven new cases, with six confirmed links to the Avalon cluster.
All seven cases were the result of community transmission.

This was out of nearly 24,000 tests.

Queensland records another day of zero cases

The sunshine state has once again recorded no new cases from local or international sources.

There are currently 11 active cases in Queensland with 1616 tests performed yesterday.

Melbourne quarantine runaway arrested

A second overseas traveller has been arrested by police after attempting to leave hotel quarantine without permission.

The 24-year-old completing his 14-day mandatory isolation at a Tullamarine quarantine hotel near Melbourne Airport before he left his room at 2.45pm on Boxing Day. He was later arrested by police outside the hotel. According to a police spokesman, he "returned to his room without further incident".

He has since been transferred to complex care accommodation, reports the Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS).

Hotel quarantine escapee located after frenzied search

Police search teams have found a woman who ran away from hotel quarantine after refusing a COVID-19 test.

The 49-year-old woman identified as Jenny Maree D'Ubios arrived in Perth from Spain but escaped during her 14-day mandatory isolation.

Picture: WA Police
Picture: WA Police

While she was in hotel quarantine at the Pan Pacific in Perth, it's believed she shared multiple videos on Facebook detailing conspiracy theories and her difficulties in quarantine, reports The Australian.

This included a nine-minute video where she blamed the pandemic on the 5G network and urged people to stop using Google.

"My body is like the most powerful healing tool not some drug made by (a) pharmaceutical company," she said.

On Saturday night the Western Australia Police Force appealed to the public to help find Ms D'Ubios. They described her as 155cm tall, fair skinned, medium build, with brown hair and brown eyes.

"She arrived in Western Australia from overseas and has not yet completed her 14-days quarantine or COVID testing requirements," said a spokeswoman.
"Police are now asking the community to assist in locating her. Members of the public are advised not to approach Jenny but contact police immediately on 131 444."

She was later found by authorities on Saturday night after being spotted in the city CBD at 10am. According to a Facebook post she shared at 2am, Sunday morning, she is reportedly in hospital.

"I chose to walk into a hospital and ask them to initiate on my behalf as the situation for my health and mental well being. Thanks for your support," she wrote.
"Please pray for a miracle. I need a non toxic safe place to quarantine. That's all I am asking for so they don't pump me with antihistamines or allergy drugs to cope with the toxic environment."

Updated: NSW restrictions as of December 27

As of midnight, Sunday, December 27, people living in the Greater Sydney region, Central Coast, Wollongong and Nepean Blue Mountains and the northern beaches must abide by new, slightly updated social distancing rules.
As a refresher, they are:

Northern beaches (northern zone)
- Under new 'stay-at-home' restrictions, indoor gatherings are once again not allowed.
- Up to five people, including children are able to gather outdoors for exercise or recreational activity.
- People are not able to enter or leave this zone.

Northern beaches (southern zone)
- Residents in the southern zone will also return to 'stay-at-home' restrictions with indoor gatherings banned.
- Up to 10 people, including children are able to gather outdoors for exercise or recreational activity.
- People are not able to enter or leave this zone.

Tough stay-at-home orders are once again in place for both zones of the northern beaches with residents only allowed to leave their home for four reasons. They are:
1. Shopping for food or other goods and services
2. Travel for work or education purposes if unable to work from home
3. Exercise
4. Medical or caring reasons

Greater Sydney, Central Coast, Wollongong and Nepean Blue Mountains
- Indoor household gatherings now limited to 10 people, including children
- CBD workers have been urged to work from home where possible.

The Public Health Order is in place until 11:59pm December 30.

Northern Beaches minister: 'Get cracking' on NYE regulations

Northern beaches Mayor Michael Regan has urged the state government to share updated New Year's Eve orders, with restaurants in the area struggling with the financial uncertainty.

Appearing on ABC on Sunday morning, Mr Regan said they "need to know by Tuesday at the latest".

"We had all the restaurants pretty much booked solid for Christmas and New Year's and they're saying, 'we can't wait now until New Year's Eve to the 30th to find out whether were not we can open because we have to order stock in and order logistics and the like and staffing'"

"So they really need to get going and get cracking."

He continued saying that many business owners have reached out to him asking the Government to make a decision earlier. Mr Regan also said northern beaches residents are handling the lockdown "quite well" and have complied with social distancing and venue barcode registrations.

Northern beaches Mayor Michael Regan called for more direction around NYE regulations.
Northern beaches Mayor Michael Regan called for more direction around NYE regulations.

The mayor also reiterated his support of mandatory mask-wearing, calling it another tool to "fight this spread".

"It's good the Government says that we should do it and we are doing it by large, but I think if it gives (us the the) opportunity to use the power to force us to wear them, then so be it.

"I think it's very important that we do do mask-wearing. I make no secret of that. "

Victoria records 58 consecutive days of no community transmission

Victoria has shared their Boxing Day COVID-19 figures, with the state recording one new overseas case and no new locally acquired cases. There are currently 10 active cases with 5848 tests conducted yesterday.

This comes after a false positive COVID-19 test on Saturday forced up to 30 staff at the Royal Melbourne Hospital into isolation. The female patient received the initial test after presenting to the emergency department, however a second test confirmed she didn't have the virus.

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Yesterday:

Concerns over Hillsong crowd

Video footage appears to show a large crowd at Hillsong Church's Christmas light display in Sydney's northwest.

The video, aired on Channel 7 on Boxing Day, shows people at the church's Sydney Hills campus at Bellavista.

A witness filmed the throng of people at the Christmas Light display, concerned about the apparent lack of social distancing at the gathering.

The display is not a ticketed or scheduled event but rather was open throughout December for the public to visit at times of their own choosing.

Picture: Channel 7
Picture: Channel 7

The Hillsong website advertises the display as a "drive through" attraction. "Our Sydney (Hills) and Brisbane (Central) campuses will be decked out in twinkling Christmas lights throughout the month of December," it says.

"Take a drive with your family, friends and neighbours, and soak up some Christmas cheer!"

Sydney Christmas services were held online this year with celebrity pastor Brian Houston.

COVID restrictions in greater Sydney limit outdoor gatherings to 100 people.

Places of worship are allowed 300 people in a distinct area as long as there is only one person per four metres squared.

Hillsong was contacted for comment.

New alerts for gym, cafes, pubs

NSW Health has released a number of new alerts for venues attended by confirmed cases of COVID-19, as well as updated public transport routes.

Anyone who attended the following venues at the following times is considered a close contact, and must immediately get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of whether a negative result is received:

• Cibo Café, North Sydney (71 Walker Street) Wednesday 16 December 12pm-12.45pm

Anyone who attended the following venues at the following times is a casual contact who must immediately get tested and isolate until a negative result is received:

• Anytime Fitness, Belrose (Glenrose Shopping Centre) Sunday 6 December 9.30am-11.30am, Monday 7 December 9.30am-11.30am

• P'nut Street Noodles Thai Restaurant, Balmain (415 Darling Street) Wednesday 16 December 6pm-6.15pm

• Belrose Hotel, Belrose (5 Hews Parade) Friday 11 December 12pm-6pm

• Sir Reuben, Rozelle (702 Darling Street) Sunday 20 December 11am-11.30am

• Zeus Street Greek, Drummoyne (187-189 Lyons Street) Tuesday 22 December 6pm-6.15pm

• Balmain Post Office (366b Darling St) Tuesday 22 December 3.30pm-4pm

Anyone who attended the following venue at the following times should monitor for symptoms and immediately get tested and isolate if they appear. If further symptoms appear, isolate and get tested again:

• Australian Red Cross Op Shop, Avalon Beach (5/48 Old Barrenjoey Road) Tuesday 15 December 1pm-2pm

• Ian Potter Children's Wild Play Garden, Centennial Park (Off Grand Drive) Tuesday 22 December 10am-11.15am

The health advice or times have changed for the below public transport routes. Passengers who travelled on this bus for at least 30 minutes must get tested and self-isolate for 14 days regardless of the result.

People who travelled on this bus for less than 30 minutes should get tested immediately and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. They should continue to monitor for symptoms and if any symptoms occur, get tested again.

• B1-1 starting at Mona Vale BLine, Barrenjoey Road ending at Stand M, Wynyard Station, York Street, Thursday 17 December 11.30am to 12.36pm

• B1-1 starting at Stand B, Wynyard Station, Carrington Street ending at Mona Vale BLine, Barrenjoey Road, Thursday 17 December 4.15pm to 5.15pm

 

More cases of new coronavirus variant

Lebanon has confirmed its first case of new coronavirus variant after France reported its first case earlier, Al Jazeera reports.

The confirmed cases of the variant, which is said to be a more transmissible virus, both arrived from London.

This has prompted stricter lockdown measures in the UK post-Christmas and more than 50 countries have banned travel from the UK.
France's interior ministry said Thursday that limits on travel from the UK will continue "until at least January 6".

A French man who arrived in France from London on December 19 tested positive for the new variant on Friday despite having no symptoms and is isolating in his home in the French city of Tours.

Lebanon's health minister said on Friday the case of the new variant was detected on a Middle East Airlines flight from London December 21.

Italian authorities detected the new strain in a patient in Rome and Japan reported five cases in passengers arriving from the UK.

Meanwhile, Singapore has confirmed one case of the new variant.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported nine cases were found in Denmark and one each in the Netherlands and Australia.

China reports 20 new COVID-19 cases

China has recorded 20 new COVID-19 cases on Christmas Day, six more cases than the previous day, the country's health authority said on Saturday, Reuters reports.

The previous day, 14 new cases were reported.

The National Health Commission said in its daily bulletin that 12 of the new cases were imported.

Of the eight locally transmitted cases, six came from the northeastern province of Liaoning and two from the capital Beijing.

Additionally, 19 asymptomatic cases, which are not included on China's tally, were reported on December 25, up from 17 the previous day.

Mainland China has now reported a total of 86,933 coronavirus cases.

The death toll in China remains unchanged at 4634.

More than 3.5 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been given

More than 3.5 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have already been administered in seven countries in the biggest vaccination campaign in history, Bloomberg reports.

The US has administered 1.23 million doses, according to Bloomberg's count.

The US is allocating 5.1 million doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine this week and 6 million doses of the Moderna shot.

Both vaccines require two doses several weeks apart and the second doses are being held in reserve until they're ready to be administered.

The Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine has been approved across North America, Europe and the Middle East where vaccinations begin this week.

The vaccine trials showed a reduction in the coronavirus infection by 95 per cent in tens of thousands of volunteers.

Meanwhile, China and Russia jumped the gun and started administering their own vaccinations in July and August and have already vaccinated more than a million people.

UK wakes up to new lockdown restrictions

Six million more UK residents will be waking up to tougher tier-4 restrictions as new lockdown measures come into force post-Christmas.

Around 24 million people in England - more than 40 per cent of the country's population - will be forced to abide by the new restrictions.

This comes after a new variant of the virus was reported in the UK last week while infections and hospitalisations from the virus continue to increase.

A further 570 people died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus as of Christmas Day, taking the UK's death toll to more than 70,000.

There have been 244,146 positive tests to the virus in the UK in the past week.

Residents in the UK have been warned to stay home and limit household mixing to two people outdoors, while non-essential retail, gyms and hairdressers have been forced to shut.

This is on top of tier-3 restrictions, which includes the closure of pubs and restaurants, while take-aways and deliveries are still allowed.

Germany's coronavirus cases rise by 14,455

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 14,455 to 1,627,103, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday.

The reported death toll rose by 240 to 29,422, the tally showed.

Mexico records 9679 new cases, 665 more deaths

Mexico has recorded 9679 new coronavirus cases and 665 additional deaths, Mexico's Health Ministry reported on Friday.

The country's total number of cases has reached 1,372,243 cases and 121,837 deaths.
The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Thailand confirms 110 new coronavirus infections

Thailand has confirmed 110 new coronavirus infections on Saturday.

Of the 100 new cases, 64 were local infections connected to an outbreak in the southwest province of Samut Sakhon, which is the country's coronavirus worst outbreak yet.

Of the new infections, 30 were among migrant workers and 16 were imported cases, Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the country's COVID-19 taskforce, told a briefing.

Thailand has a total of 6020 confirmed cases and 60 deaths.

US coronavirus death toll passes 330,000

More than 330,000 people in the US have died from COVID-19, fresh reports confirm.

As the virus continues to spread, the total number of coronavirus infections in the US has almost reached 19 million.

New cases in the US continue to reach around 200,000 a day.

The daily death rate in the US from COVID-19 is around 3000 per day.

Sydney shopping centres swarming on Boxing Day

Paramatta Westfield shopping centre in Sydney's west is swarming with shoppers on Boxing Day.

A video of the swarms of shoppers was shared on Twitter, showing people not adhering to 1.5 metre social distancing.

This comes as NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian said earlier she was pleased with reduced foot traffic in Sydney CBD.

However, she warned people to wear a mask if shopping indoors and to try to avoid the crowds.

"If you are in the suburbs, please make sure you are wearing a mask when shopping indoors. If it is too crowded, turn around and go home," the premier said.

Shoppers warned to wear a mask indoors

Shoppers out getting Boxing Day sales are warned to wear a mask indoors.

"Wear a mask indoors and keep 1.5 metres from other people," NSW Health warned in a tweet.

"If unwell, please don't go shopping. Stay home and get tested immediately".

First case of new coronavirus variant found in France

A French person who recently returned to France from London has tested positive for a new variant of the coronavirus, the French health ministry confirmed.

The case, found in the French city of Tours, is the first in France.

The man, who is currently self-isolating, arrived from London on December 19.

France has 20,262 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 159 more related deaths in hospitals in the past 24 hours.

On December 14, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a spike in COVID cases in the UK might be linked to the new variant of the virus.

More than 1000 cases of the new variant had been identified, mainly in southeastern England, according to the UK health ministry.

Mayor 'appalled' by Bronte Beach gathering

Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos has joined the NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard in slamming yesterday's Bronte Beach gathering.

The outdoor gathering saw around 100 people get together for a Christmas party at Bronte Beach.

"We are appalled by the behaviour that was displayed yesterday by a group of people visiting Bronte Beach," Ms Masselos said in a statement.

"This kind of behaviour threatens to undo the good work of Council and the entire community.

"Please do not visit our public places if you refuse to observe Public Health Orders and current health advice - you pose too great a health risk.

"If you are feeling unwell, please, stay at home and get tested and remain at home until you receive a negative result."

Boxing Day shoppers heeds Premier's advice

NSW residents have heeded Gladys Berejiklian's advice to avoid physical Boxing Day sales to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The NSW Premier thanked shoppers for following the rules as concerns remain over unlinked mystery cases spread by CBD workers.

"We were very pleased this morning to see that people listened to our instructions regarding CBD shopping," she said during Saturday morning's press conference.

"Those that did turn up were wearing masks, and obviously the number of people was substantially reduced and we're deeply grateful for that."

Shoppers seen at big retailers like David Jones and Myer were a fraction of the crowds normally observed on what is regarded as Australia's biggest shopping event.

Photos of the Pitt Street shopping precinct show largely socially-distanced groups with the bulk of shoppers wearing masks.

Yesterday, the Premier shared concerns over a growing CBD cluster, expressing concern over a "potential spread" of cases.

"A number of cases presented. We want to make sure people who went on to their suburbs did not pass it on to others which may have started a new chain of transmission but we hope that is not the case."

"We cannot be too careful under these circumstances that we ask everybody to limit any activity in the CBD."

In a Boxing Day unlike any other, the iconic annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race has also been cancelled. However a Virtual Regatta carrying a prize pack worth over $460 will commence at 1pm AEDST.

South Australia records no cases

South Australia has reported no new cases with 3835 tests undertaken across the state.

The state currently has four active cases after recording two new cases yesterday. Although they were both linked to overseas travellers, it's been revealed one of those cases was previously diagnosed overseas and has been removed from South Australia's total.

Western Australia records six new cases

Western Australia has reported six new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of active cases to 13.

Despite the spike in numbers, the Department of Health confirmed all cases are in hotel quarantine and are related to overseas travel.

Throughout the pandemic, the state has recorded a total of 854 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 832 patients recovering from the virus.

Bronte revellers may create 'super spreader event'

Scenes of Santa hat clad backpackers partying on Bronte Beach has earnt harsh words from NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

Taking place on Friday, the 100-plus crowd were believed to be largely British or Irish backpackers who were drinking and dancing, despite social-distancing measures.

Speaking to media on Saturday, Mr Hazzard blasted the group, stating the "didn't give a damn about the rest of Sydney".

"Many of those backpackers come here to Australia and are enjoying the relative freedoms we have here," he said.

 

"If they were in Europe right now, most of them would be in lockdown and not even allowed outside the front door.

"The fact that you can go out is a privilege, and it should be respected in an appropriate way, in accordance with the government's requirements."

Mr Hazzard also shared fears these large-scale gatherings could spark a "super spreader event," despite northern beaches residents undertaking tough measures to stop the spread.

"People in the northern beaches have been doing their part, big time, to keep not only themselves but the rest of Sydney safe," he said.

"Let me tell you, that event, I am hoping will not become a super spreader event. But has every chance that it could be."

Although there haven't been any recorded cases in Bronte, neighbouring locations including Ruby's Diner in Waverley, Bondi Icebergs and Bondi Junction Westfield shopping centre have been linked to cases in the past three weeks.

On Saturday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also announced a locally-acquired mystery case involving a Bondi local, with no known links to the Avalon cluster. The case is currently under investigation.

New NSW restrictions from December 27 onwards

With Christmas period restrictions coming to and end for NSW's northern beaches and greater Sydney regions, here are the new restrictions household will have to follow.

Northern beaches (northern zone)

- Under new 'stay-at-home' restrictions, indoor gatherings are once again not allowed.

- Up to five people, including children are able to gather outdoors for exercise or recreational activity.

- People are not able to enter or leave this zone.

Northern beaches (southern zone)

- Residents in the southern zone will also return to 'stay-at-home' restrictions with indoor gatherings banned.

- Up to 10 people, including children are able to gather outdoors for exercise or recreational activity.

- People are not able to enter or leave this zone.

Greater Sydney, Central Coast, Wollongong and Nepean Blue Mountains

- Indoor household gatherings now limited to 10 people, including children

- CBD workers have been urged to work from home where possible.

Tough stay-at-home orders are once again in place for both zones of the northern beaches with residents only allowed to leave their home for four reasons. They are:
1. Shopping for food or other goods and services
2. Travel for work or education purposes if unable to work from home
3. Exercise
4. Medical or caring reasons

'Be very vigilant.' Cases linked to Paddington cafe grows

Another case has been linked to an outbreak at Paddington's Alimentari Deli in Sydney's east.

A young child who ate at the cafe tested positive on December 24, making them the fourth case linked to the eatery.

Dr Chant called for all diners who ate at the cafe from December 17 to 19 to remain in isolation and get tested even if they return a negative test.

"If symptoms arise, (they need) to get retested, and take away customers need to get tested if they develop the slightest symptoms," she urged.

"We need to be very vigilant as a community."

Positive case on Sydney to Griffith flight recorded

Of the nine cases from today, one infection was linked to a person who flew from Sydney to Griffith on Monday 21 December.

Dr Chant said they got on the plane before they knew they were a close contact of a case, stating they "did nothing wrong".

"We are alerting passengers on that flight that departed to Griffith on Monday 21 December," she continued.

"There were 28 passengers, and one flight attendant on the flight, which left Sydney at 2:10pm and arrived at 4:20pm in Griffith.

"They are considered close contacts and must self-isolate for 14 days. Anyone who has symptoms (should) get tested immediately, and testing is available at Griffith base Hospital."

Mystery Bondi case baffles

A positive case recorded in the Bondi area is baffling health authorities.

As of yet, the locally-acquired case has no links to the Avalon cluster, with contact tracers taking a "precautionary approach". It's believed this case could also be a false positive or an old case and remains under investigation.

Dr Chant called for people to continue testing and said this would be essential on determining the state's next step.

Six new cases from the same household

Ms Berejiklian said there is room for encouragement as six of the eight cases linked to the Avalon cluster have been linked to the same household.

"Six out of those eight actually lived in the same household. The other two are deemed to be close contacts to where the disease was transmitted," she said.

Despite this, she said there is still cause for concern.

"There are still concerns about the CBD and still concerns about people in the Northern Beaches who may unintentionally have spread the virus without knowing they have it."

9 new cases reported in NSW

Speaking to media NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said nine new infections have been recorded in NSW.

This includes

- Eight were linked to the northern beaches cluster. Including six household contacts and two close contacts

- One could be a false positive.

QLD COVID-19 numbers are in

Queensland has reported zero new locally acquired cases with just one overseas case of COVID which is in hotel quarantine.

In the past 24 hours the state administered 1945 tests and currently has 11 active cases.

25yo charged over 'idiotic' beach party

A 25-year-old man will face court after he allegedly refused to comply with a move-on notice at a Christmas party held at Sydney's Bronte Beach.

Hundreds of people were seen chanting and dancing on the sand and park area before riot police swooped in about 3pm.

However they will allege a 25-year-old didn't listen and he has been issued with a court attendance notice for failing to comply with the move-on order.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard blasted the actions of the revellers and said it was "beyond belief" the event happened as Sydney battled to contain the northern beaches outbreak.

"I get the desire for youthful Christmas exuberance, but this is as irresponsible, ignorant and idiotic as it gets," he said.
"It's a massive potential COVID-19 incubator."

Cases in Sydney currently stand at 118 with 108 of them linked to the Avalon cluster.


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