By some inexplicable phenomenon, Sydney's COVID outbreak has continued to worsen (albeit by margins that most cities would consider negligible) despite the lockdown measures that have been in place for nearly three weeks at this point.
Now, the prospect for another lockdown extension looms as Australia's largest city and the surrounding state - New South Wales, Australia's largest by population - reports 112 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, almost all of which were linked to Sydney. However, there was a silver lining: the number of newly infected out in the community declined to 34 from 45.
But fears about the delta variant, which has been driving the spread, might lead to even more draconian measures.
State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was this last figure that would, in the coming days, determine whether Sydney's lockdown, due to end on Friday, would be extended.
"That's the number we need to get as close to zero as possible," Berejiklian said during her daily televised briefing. "It is really up to us. The health expert advice will be based on what those numbers look like. I can't be clearer than that."
Sydney is bracing for a longer and stricter lockdown after continued increases in COVID-19 cases, while the New South Wales Premier stated things are going to get worse before they get better.
The outbreak has prompted the Australia-Singapore travel bubble to be delayed until at least the end of the year, according to Australian press reports, despite the fact that nearly all of the new cases reported on Monday involved family members or friends of previously diagnosed patients.
Meanwhile, a new report from Deloitte showed that consumer movement-related activity in the city's central business district has plunged by nearly 90% in the two weeks since the Sydney lockdown started compared to its levels from two years ago. Even in Melbourne, where restrictions were just lifted, movement remained off 80% from the levels a year ago.
The drop in activity is placing small businesses and restaurants in a difficult position. The iconic Melbourne rooftop bar Madame Brussels announced Monday that it would become the latest victim of the pandemic when it closes its doors next week after 15 years. "The city’s just not coming back," co-owner Paula Scholes said.
Andrew's Bird & Pet Palace, which has been operated for nearly 40 years by the same couple, took in just A$150 in sales on Sunday, vs. an average of more than A$3,000 ($2,245).
With a total of around 31.2K cases and 911 deaths tallied since the start of the pandemic, Australia has fared far better than many of its rivals. The country's vaccine rollout.