Australian authorities extended the lockdown in Sydney until the end of September to slow the spread of a Covid-19 infections.
Officials imposed a curfew on two million residents in the city’s worst-hit suburbs. Residents of Sydney have been under stay-at-home orders since late June.
Even during this lockdown, infections have more than doubled in the past week with 642 new cases recorded on Friday, and 681 on Thursday.
“I apologise to the vast majority of people in those communities who are doing the right thing but for our health and safety moving forward we need to make these difficult decisions,” New South Wales (NSW) Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
She added that the curfew between 9:00pm and 5:00am was aimed at “reducing the movement of young people”, because police said there had been instances of rule-breaking late at night.
Local lawmakers have been criticised for applying harsher restrictions in the city’s poorer west and south-west suburbs.
Currently over half of Australia’s 25 million people are living in lockdown, amid outbreaks in Melbourne and Canberra.
The rest of NSW is also in lockdown, but Ms Berejiklian said restrictions outside Sydney would be eased on 28 August.
So far, Australia has recorded 971 deaths from Covid, fewer than many nations. But Delta’s entry into Australia in early June has challenged a nation initially widely praised for its pandemic response.
Frustration has built over strict border policies and frequent lockdowns. Residents in Melbourne on Thursday marked their 200th day of lockdown since the pandemic began.
Critics have also accused the federal government of complacency over its slow vaccine rollout.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government is under significant pressure, and has scrambled to secure more doses.