COVID restrictions easing further in NSW

A swathe of restrictions are being eased in NSW on the back of diminishing cases of COVID-19, with more freedoms allowed at weddings, community sport and school activities.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Thursday dangled the prospect of New Year’s Eve fireworks on Sydney Harbour and dancing at weddings – albeit with strict caveats.

For the third consecutive day, there were no new cases of community-spread COVID-19 in NSW and just one case recorded in a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

However, Ms Berejiklian flagged one new case of locally acquired COVID-19 would be included in Friday’s numbers because it was identified after the official 24-hour reporting window closed at 8pm on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the dancefloor is returning to weddings with up to 20 people in bridal parties allowed to dance, where previously only the bride and groom were permitted.

“But I stress it is the same 20 – you cannot have a roster … not different multiples of 20,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“This is really important because weddings and unfortunately funerals and other gatherings is where the virus is most contagious and spreads most readily.”

Schools choirs, musical ensembles, camps, excursions can all resume in term four as can school sport – minus parents on the school campus.

Year six formals and graduations are back on and high school formals will be permitted after the HSC, while kindergarten orientation and year 7 transitions will be allowed with COVID-safe rules.

Interschool activities can resume on Saturday – also with a COVID-19 safety plan – and parents will be allowed on the sidelines if physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres is maintained, but no carpooling is allowed.

Ms Berejiklian said she was keen to “offer people a glimmer of hope” and proceed with with some type of fireworks event on New Year’s Eve, but warned it would not include a mass community gathering on the Sydney Harbour foreshore.

“Can I stress, it will not be like any other New Year’s Eve we have had. The vast majority of us will be watching from home.”

Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant says the new COVID-19 case identified late on Wednesday is a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions, who lives in supported accommodation with two other people who have been tested.

The source of his infection is being investigated and he is now in ICU at Campbelltown Hospital.

Meanwhile, with NSW school holidays starting this weekend thousands of people have already booked trips to South Australia after the border reopened to NSW residents for the first time in almost six months.

Jetstar advertised flights from Sydney to Adelaide for just $59 and Virgin said it would resume daily flights between the state capitals from October 2.

Qantas has added more flights to its Sydney-to-Adelaide route with extra flights added on the weekend.

There were 17,392 coronavirus tests reported in the 24-hour reporting period, compared with 16,759 in the previous 24 hours.

NSW Health is treating 71 COVID-19 cases, with two patients in intensive care, none being ventilated and the overwhelming majority in non-acute, out-of-hospital care.

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