Premier defends shock lockdown move

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has defended her decision to announce NSW’s statewide lockdown on Twitter just two hours before it was to come into effect yesterday.

Addressing media on Sunday following fierce backlash to the surprising move on Saturday, Ms Berejiklian played down the issue, arguing that “by yesterday most of the state was locked down already”.

She said additional areas thrust into immediate lockdown were “just a few local government areas in regional and rural communities”.

“Please know that in a pandemic, you have to act on the health advice that you receive,” she told reporters.

“We had received advice yesterday about many people moving from the ACT to the southern parts of New South Wales which was a concern given what is happening in the ACT, so that advice was provided to me yesterday and we took that advice immediately.”

She claimed that advice was not available to her before the daily 11am press conference, and that she made the announcement public as soon as she could.

But the first official announcement came from Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s Twitter and was instantly lashed online, with people labelling the method “disgusting” and “insulting” to locals.

A formal statement was not issued by NSW Health until after 3pm, with Mr Barilaro telling ABC News that the decision was made hours earlier at lunch time on Saturday.

“We’ve always said if we thought this measure was needed we would act quickly and that’s why on that advice at lunchtime today we made the decision to go to a statewide lockdown,” he said.

Journalist Sarah Steward said it was “appalling” the lockdown was announced on Twitter.

“Yes let’s protect them but also show some respect – I’m sure there was time in today’s 45 min presser for a mention,” she wrote.

“A lot of older people aren’t on social media, but they watch their local news,” another woman posted on social media.

Another asked: “Are they seriously locking down all of NSW without a press conference?”

The Deputy Premier – who did not hold a press conference – told Sky News it was “difficult” to get the message out.

“It’s very difficult when you’ve got to get the message out, and we understand that in some parts of the state they probably haven’t heard about it yet,” Mr Barilaro said.

The statewide lockdown commenced at 5pm on Saturday and will last until 12.01am on August 22.

The order replaces all existing lockdown orders for regional NSW, with Sydney’s lockdown not slated to end until at least August 28.

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