More than five million people in Greater Sydney and its surrounds are in a 14-day lockdown as health authorities try to regain control of a coronavirus outbreak that has ballooned to 80 cases.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian says residents of Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Wollongong will only be able to leave home for essential purposes.
Those reasons include work, to shop for essential items, to seek medical care, for exercise or for caregiving or compassionate reasons.
Anyone in NSW who has been to Greater Sydney since June 21 is also being asked to stay at home for the entire lockdown period.
"The NSW government has always prided itself on taking the expert health advice," Ms Berejiklian told reporters.
"We're never afraid to take a decision that we need to take to keep our citizens safe and even though we don't want to impose burdens unless we absolutely have to, unfortunately, this is a situation where we have to.
"I said (earlier) that this is the scariest time since the pandemic started and that's proven to be the case."
The snap lockdown comes after another 12 new virus cases were recorded in NSW and exposure venues spread beyond the eastern Sydney hotspots to the northern beaches and western Sydney, where people have potentially been infectious for days.
Exercise outdoors is allowed in groups of up to 10, and COVID-safe funerals can proceed with up to 100 people.
Weddings are allowed to go ahead on Saturday and Sunday with restrictions in place, but must be cancelled from Monday.
NSW Health has issued an alert for passengers who travelled on five Virgin flights to and from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and the Gold Coast on Friday and Saturday after a flight attendant tested positive to the virus.
Details of the flights can be found on the NSW Health website and all passengers are asked to get tested and isolate, following news the crew member could have been infectious at the time.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard urged people not to try to find a way around the restrictions.
"When you do that, you might feel self-satisfied for a moment or two, possibly even for longer, but you won't feel as satisfied if you spread the virus, so please do not do that," he said.
Ms Berejiklian urged people not to panic buy, or stress about money with shops to remain open and financial assistance to be available.
"It's never easy when all of us have to face these circumstances, but we're all in the same situation," she said.
"We've had to do this before. We know the drill."
Authorities will reassess the need for the lockdown in a week, but Ms Berejiklian said it's unlikely to be shortened.
"We could assess after seven days but I want to be very upfront with the public: this will be for all intents and purposes a two-week lockdown," she said.
"I don't want to take away from that but if there is a dramatic change and the health advice says that we can get out of a lockdown earlier (we may) but I'm not anticipating that.
"The best advice from Health is that we should brace ourselves for additional cases."
Restrictions have also been introduced for regional NSW.
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the virus was spreading too fast.
"Despite testing numbers being quite high and the contact tracers getting in contact with people rapidly, what we're seeing is by the time we've got there and uncovered the chains of transmission, we have a number of people infectious in the community," Dr Chant said.
Even some of the premier's own staff have been identified as close contacts after being near Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall, who has the virus.
Authorities are still trying to work out whether any other people in Parliament House are close or casual contacts.
"Fortunately, I wasn't there when that occurred, but a number of my staff have been identified as close contacts," Ms Berejiklian said.
Meanwhile, following an investigation into how a Sydney limousine driver at the centre of the city's coronavirus outbreak was not vaccinated, Police Commissioner Mick Fuller confirmed on Saturday there was insufficient evidence to establish that either the driver or his employer breached any public health orders.
Australian Associated Press
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.