NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has given the clearest signal yet that a lengthy lockdown is coming, telling Sydneysiders to expect news as early as today.
"I am hoping to make an announcement today or Thursday at the latest in relation to the future of the lockdown," she told reporters this afternoon.
"I would love to say exactly when the end date will be but that is up to all of us in part."
She said the number of infectious people in the community must be "as close to zero as possible" for Sydney to get out of lockdown.
NSW recorded 89 new cases overnight, including 21 who were infectious in the community.
The state also recorded its second death from the outbreak — a man in his 70s from the eastern suburbs.
There are now 65 Covid patients in hospital in NSW, including 21 in intensive care and four on ventilators.
The Premier said of Tuesday's numbers that "one day is not a trend" and "the numbers will keep bouncing around".
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said there are "still too many people in the community that are infectious".
"Do not visit other family members in other households," she said. "The unit we want to keep together is the household. We do not want you inadvertently spreading it to other family members by visiting them."
Experts call for tougher rules
Health experts have been calling for stricter rules in recent days - including one of the most controversial lockdown measures implemented during Victoria's deadly second wave.
Director and CEO of the Burnet Institute, Professor Brendan Crabb, told the ABC's 7.30 programme yesterday that NSW should introduce a curfew like Victoria did.
"NSW is going to need tougher restrictions, something more akin to Stage 4 in Victoria to get this back to zero in a reasonable timeframe," he said.
"With these new Stage-3-like restrictions that came into place last Friday, we think that this will go into decline but it will go into decline very, very slowly.
"If increased restrictions were adopted and adopted soon, [they] would crush this. Stage 4 restrictions would deliver this reduction to less than five cases per day on a four-to-six-week timeframe.
"Some of these things like masks outdoors and a curfew might work to influence behaviour as much as they are direct epidemiological tools."
'We've lost control'
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro earlier admitted "we've lost control" of the virus and hinted that new rules would be enforced.
But he stopped short of anything that looks like a curfew.
"I can promise you that there's never been a conversation around curfews or going even further," he told Sky News.
"We may have to go further or tighten restrictions in some local government areas, we accept that, but what does that mean?
"It means making sure there's less movement of people going into homes, going into construction sites, going into retail.
"I don't believe we will get to the state of curfews and radiuses around where you can go and how much time you can spend in the open air."
Victoria's second wave, which caused more than 800 deaths, led authorities to introduce an 8pm curfew for greater Melbourne.
But the measure, adopted under State of Emergency powers, was so divisive that it led to proceedings in the Victorian Supreme Court.
The current rules for Sydneysiders mean a person can only leave home for four reasons — to get food and essential items once a day, for work, for exercise or to seek medical care or a vaccination.
Shopping can be carried out by only one person per household, and a 10km travel limit has been imposed for exercise and outdoor recreation.
Exercise was initially allowed with up to 10 people outdoors, but that number has been slashed to two.
Reasonable excuses to be out of the home include accessing childcare, donating blood, moving house, attending a funeral, providing care, accessing social services, undertaking legal obligations and to escape risk of harm.
Face masks are mandatory in all indoor settings including public transport, and funerals have been capped at 10 people.
Under the current rules, pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes are open for takeaways, but places of worship, hairdressers, auction houses, betting agencies, markets, massage parlours, nightclubs and swimming pools are all closed.
All schools have been closed to face-to-face learning.
"I can't see why [numbers] will go down with a further week of lockdown, unless there is further intervention," said Adrian Esterman, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of South Australia.
He suggested "tightening the definition of an essential worker, or introducing a curfew, and somehow getting better compliance with the regulations".