Police during Sydney's COVID-19 crackdown (Image: AAP/Bianca De Marchi)

It’s hard to imagine now, but just over a week ago Sydney’s outbreak seemed to have plateaued. Most cases were not infectious in the community. The lockdown seemed to be reining-in the Bondi cluster's spread.

But while health authorities looked the wrong way, the Bondi cluster moved west. By the middle of last week, it had seeded around Fairfield and Bankstown, working-class areas with large migrant populations. Suddenly, like Dan Andrews a year earlier, Premier Gladys Berejiklian was warning about large family gatherings. Like Andrews, whose lockdown of nine public housing blocks breached residents’ human rights, Berejiklian sent police to blitz south-west Sydney. 

As Bondi residents swanned on the beach and sipped their takeaway cocktails, people in the south-west were having their shopping checked by police to make sure they were out for essentials. Yesterday, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet was forced to apologise to Fairfield residents. The government had abruptly announced anyone leaving the area for essential work had to get tested every three days, and by morning, queues at drive-through clinics stretched for kilometres.