Outrage has erupted after NSW’s leaders plunged the entire state into lockdown via Twitter on Saturday afternoon.
After several Nationals MPs had shared the news via their Facebook pages, the first official announcement came from Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s Twitter account.
The move was instantly lashed online, with people labelling the lack of press conference “disgusting” and “insulting” to locals.
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,” one woman said.
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.
He said he was “very confident” the statewide lockdown would not be extended beyond seven days.
The statewide lockdown begins at 5pm on Saturday and will last until 12.01am on August 22.
This order replaces all existing lockdown orders for regional NSW, with Sydney’s lockdown not slated to end until at least August 28.
Authorities gave NSW residents just two hours notice of the impending lockdown, with a formal statement not issued by NSW Health until after 3pm.
But Mr Barilaro told ABC News that the decision was made 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.
Amid confusion over the new lockdown orders, Opposition Leader Chris Minns said the need for “clarity, certainty, and transparency” from the government was needed like never before.
“It is important that announcements that have such a big impact on the people of New South Wales are made from official government and health sources,” he told NCA NewsWire.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian was also slammed for her absence as the news began to circulate, with the leader not issuing a tweet of her own until 3.45pm.
The decision to make the announcement via social media prompted disbelief among journalists and commentators including academic Dr Jenna Price, who labelled the decision to Tweet the lockdown announcement “strange”.
Journalist Antoinette Lattouf said it was an “interesting” move with regional Aussies “on average a lot older than Sydney folks”.
But the ACT government welcomed the lockdown as a “greater level” of protection.
Earlier on Saturday morning Ms Berejiklian warned the state was at war with the delta variant, after it recorded 466 new coronavirus cases overnight.
The premier said in her 11am press conference lockdowns in some areas of concern, such as Western NSW and Armidale, were “likely” to be extended.
In her tweet on Saturday afternoon the premier said she had received health advice after that announcement.
“Following the press conference today, I received health advice concerning multiple regional NSW areas,” she said.
“As such, from 5pm tonight, all of regional NSW will go into a seven-day lockdown. This means the whole state is in strict lockdown.”