As millions of NSW residents go into a two-week lockdown, New Zealand and other states have moved to stop any infection seeping across borders.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian placed Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong under stay-at-home orders from 6pm Saturday until July 9.
Officially 29 local COVID-19 infections were recorded in NSW on Saturday, though 17 had been notified the day before.
The outbreak numbers 80 cases, but Ms Berejiklian has warned that number will likely rise.
Late on Saturday health authorities were scrambling to contact passengers on five flights after a Sydney-based Virgin cabin crew member tested positive to coronavirus.
The five flights on Friday and Saturday took passengers either to or from Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast.
Sydney's infections continued to grow at a consistent rate Ms Berejiklian said, but exposure sites have begun emerging in areas outside of those locked-down.
They include communities within the northern beaches and western Sydney, where people have potentially been infectious for days.
Regional NSW will be under lesser restrictions including indoor mask wearing, staying seated in hospitality venues and limiting home visitors to five.
The NZ government paused quarantine-free travel from all Australian states and territories until 9:59pm Tuesday.
NZ's COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the "precautionary step" will be reviewed on Monday.
"I acknowledge the frustration and inconvenience that comes with this pause, but given the high level of transmissibility ... it is the right thing to do," he said in a statement.
Queensland and Victorian leaders have told residents not to travel to NSW and warn of the ramifications of trying to cross their borders after being in a hotspot.
Victoria have posted extra police at the border and travellers run the risk of being turned around or fined up to $5000.
Tasmania has closed its border to regions affected by the lockdown, and Western Australia has reintroduced a "hard border" with the entire state of NSW.
Speculation is increasing one of the nation's premier sporting events, State of Origin, will have to be rescheduled or relocated, with game three between NSW and Queensland due to be played in Sydney on July 14.
In the Northern Territory, a fresh positive case in a worker at a mine 540km northwest of Alice Springs has caused it to shut down and forced hundreds of workers into isolation.
More than 1600 people in three states have been ordered into isolation after he tested positive to the coronavirus at the Newmont-owned Granites gold mine in the Tanami desert.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the mine worker tested positive on Friday, after arriving in the Territory on June 18.
The man had travelled from Bendigo via Brisbane, where he was ordered into a quarantine hotel on June 17. He was in quarantine for a single day, when it is believed he caught the virus.
Meanwhile, the federal government continues to be criticised for a slow vaccine rollout because supply does not meet demand.
Two thirds of staff working in aged care homes across Australia remain unvaccinated.
The vaccination rate would have to double to complete the program by the end of the year.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisted the nation is well positioned in the fight against the "truly global pandemic".
"Australia has been able to save lives and save livelihoods and suppress this virus, more successfully than almost any other country in the world," the prime minister said later on Saturday.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration on Friday gave approval for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine - the third COVID-19 vaccine to be approved in Australia.
The Australian government has not yet made any deal to receive the US health company's vaccines, so the TGA decision will not aid the rollout.
"Whether the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will become one of the vaccines utilised in Australia will be up for discussion," Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd said on Saturday.
Australia has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which would cover the entire adult population.
Federal opposition health spokesman Mark Butler lambasted the government on Saturday, blaming Prime Minister Scott Morrison for the lockdown.
"He's bungled the vaccine rollout so that only three per cent of the Australian population are fully vaccinated against these highly infectious variants," Mr Butler said.
Australia recorded 31 new community COVID-19 cases on Saturday, including 29 in NSW, one in Victoria and one in the NT. Six cases were acquired overseas and are in hotel quarantine.
Australian Associated Press
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