On the morning after it was announced that essential workers in Sydney’s Fairfield must test negative for COVID-19 in order to leave their LGA, the 24-hour drive-thru COVID clinic is already completely backed up.

Even in the earliest hours of the morning, people had to wait up to six hours to get a mandatory COVID test in order to leave their area for essential work.

At around 2am, The Today Show crossed to a line of cars that already stretched several kilometres in several different directions.

“It’s not hard to understand the frustration of people, however, when you consider that many of these people have probably come off a 12-hour shift in a hospital, or driving a truck, or delivering food, and now they are greeted with these extraordinary lines that they need to wait in for hours and hours just to go to work,” reporter Gabrielle Boyle told the program.

One resident told 2GB that he had to skip getting tested altogether because it took way too long.

“I was at the testing clinic this morning at 1am at Smithfield, and at 3:30 – I had to start work at 4am – I left and the guy told me there was still a four-hour wait,” he said.

He added that he spent three hours lining up the the night before, only to be turned away by police because the line was too long.

Meanwhile, Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone posted a video on Facebook late on Tuesday night showing just how bad the lines were.

“We support more testing but adequate resources need to be put in place, today has been a terrible experience with a six-hour wait and the NSW government needs to put more testing sites across Fairfield,” he wrote.

“These poor residents who need to go to work tomorrow are having to wait hours due to the new testing rules that apply to Fairfield residents who are required to get tested every three days if they work outside our area.”

The rules, which were announced by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian at a press conference on Tuesday morning, were supposed to kick in at midnight.

But the one bit of relief is that the NSW Government introduced a grace period at the last minute on Wednesday morning. This means essential workers in the area will have until Saturday to prove they’ve tested negative before leaving the LGA.

Then, from Sunday, police will be able to make residents present proof that they’ve tested negative for COVID-19 if they try to leave the area.

Hopefully that’s enough time for the state government to ramp up testing so that people can follow the government’s own rules. You can find out where to get tested here.

Image: Getty Images / Brook Mitchell