More than 500,000 residents of Sydney will go into lockdown for at least a week, as Australia races to control an outbreak of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus.

People who live or work in four of Sydney’s most populous areas will only be allowed to leave their homes for specified essential reasons, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Friday. The outbreak has climbed to 65 cases, with 22 new locally acquired cases recorded since the day before.

The lockdown “is in order for us to ensure that this doesn’t take a hold for weeks and weeks and we believe this is a proportionate response to the risk,” Berejiklian said. While she had previously barred about 1 million of Sydney’s population of 6 million from leaving the city, the new measures show concern is rising about how the virus is quickly spreading in the local community.

The outbreak shows how pressure is growing on the nation’s “Covid zero” strategy, designed to eliminate the virus from the community, as the infectious variant creates more leaks from hotels used to quarantine Australians returning from overseas. Those outbreaks have triggered localised lockdowns that are hampering the economic recovery.

The areas of Sydney to be locked down midnight are Woollahra, Waverley, Randwick and City of Sydney, all in the centre of the metropolis. The four reasons to leave are shopping for essential goods, medical care or compassionate needs, outdoor exercise and essential work or education that can’t be done from home.

With authorities ordering anyone who has worked in those areas within the past two weeks to also stay home, the total number of people required to enter lock down will be higher than their population sizes indicate.

Other states and territories have now implemented travel restrictions against residents of the city, and a travel bubble between New South Wales and New Zealand has been suspended.

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