LESS than 24 hours after being told they could not leave their apartment building for any reason, all but one family was released from the blanket 'stay-home' restriction after testing negative on Wednesday afternoon.
'It's a bit surreal', said one of many residents impacted by the initial orders on Wednesday morning.
People living in the affected block of the 94-unit complex on Sturt Road, Cardiff, were preparing themselves for a lengthy wait, unable to leave their homes for any reason, requiring the delivery of hampers of food and essential items.
But by 2pm, Hunter New England Health confirmed that all affected residents, other than three members ot the one family which had initially tested positive, had returned negative tests and were free to leave their units, in line with broader lockdown restrictions in place across the state.
The three confirmed cases were 'safely isolating off-site' a spokeswoman said, and all residents in the affected tower had been tested on-site and had isolated until they returned negative results.
Health officials worked together with building management and residents to implement infection control and "other measures" to help safeguard the health and welfare of residents, she said.
Robyn and Glenn Maybury, who live in the affected building block, said they were tested on Tuesday night.
"It's not a very nice feeling .. to be feeling like you're locked in and you can't get out at all," Mrs Maybury said of the experience.
She wasn't sure in any case how comfortable she would feel about leaving her unit until the complex, or at least her building block, had had a deep clean, she said.
Another couple said they were feeling stressed because they lived with multiple health issues, including diabetes, and were set to miss a couple of medical appointments due to the new restrictions.
Residents of an adjoining building said they, too were stressed, knowing that COVID-19 was on their doorstep.
Meanwhile, Deputy Premier John Barilaro told journalists at 12.45pm that the details of the new permit system, designed to track the movement of workers and others travelling to and from regional areas, will be nutted out at a crisis committee meeting at 2pm on Wednesday.
"We are weighing up the ideas of what happens with the Newcastle, Central Coast and other regions travelling to Sydney from those regions and vice versa," he said.
"All of those options are on the table and (Police Commissoner Mick Fuller) updated us last night that he wants to make it as tight as possible, but he also wants to make it ... so that we can monitor it, otherwise we will be wasting our time. That's all to be discussed this afternoon."
Whatever decisions are made will be made public at NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian's press conference at 11am on Thursday, he said.
Asked if the committee would consider putting a 'ring of steel' around Sydney to further protect the regions, Mr Barilaro said there was virtually one in place already.
"Well, when you put together the restrictions on Sydney plus the permit system you've almost got a ring of steel," he said. "The reality is we still have to function as a society and as an economy, and a lot of goods and services do enter Sydney ... and that's the balancing game."
The situation is fast evolving and continues to worsen state-wide, exceeding the numbers recorded on the worst day of last year's pandemic, on March 25, when the state recorded 211 cases, 18 times in the past three weeks.
A list of new exposure sites was released by Hunter New England Health after a further 15 community cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in the region to 8pm Tuesday night, bringing the region's total to 145 since the latest outbreak began in August.
NewsXpress, East Maitland (East Maitland News & Gifts) on Thursday 12 August, from 6am - 11.10am
The Steggles Shop, Beresfield on Thursday 12 August, from 2.20pm - 2.47pm
Reject Shop, Home Makers Centre, Kotara on Saturday 7 August, from 11.30am - 12pm
Grill'd, The Junction on Sunday 8 August, from 1pm - 1.10pm
Reject Shop, High Street, Maitland on Monday 9 August, from 10.29am - 10.35am
Coastal Electronic Repairs, Jewells on Wednesday 4 August, from 10.45am - 11am
Dunkley Dash Espresso Hut, Mount Hutton on:
o Monday 2 August from 6.25am - 6.35am
o Tuesday 3 August from 6.25am - 6.35am
o Wednesday 4 August from 6.25am - 6.35am
o Thursday 5 August from 6.25am - 6.35am
o Friday 6 August from 6.25am - 6.35am
o Saturday 7 August from 6.25am - 6.35am
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