NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the state’s tough coronavirus social-distancing rules could be relaxed as early as May.
On Tuesday, she described social distancing as “a way of life” that would remain until a COVID-19 vaccine was found.
When asked on Wednesday about the chances of the restrictions being eased on May 1, she said that was possible, and that the laws would be assessed on a month-by-month basis, based on health advice.
“If the advice in a couple of weeks is that there might be a couple of aspects that we can tweak to provide relief to our citizens, well then, we’ll take that advice,” she said.
However, she said despite the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in NSW stabilising, lifting restrictions “comes with a risk”.
“When you do lift any of the restrictions, it does mean that more people will be admitted to our hospitals and more people who will succumb to the virus,” she said.
“Every time you relax a restriction, more people will get sick. More people will die.”
Last week, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the state’s tough social-distancing laws would be in place until the end of June, and that he would not seek to extend them.
“People will have gotten the message by then, hopefully,” he said.
NSW Health confirmed 48 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday morning, taking the state’s total to 2734.
It is the lowest number of new cases recorded since March 19 – the day the Ruby Princess cruise ship docked in Sydney.
NSW chief medical officer Kerry Chant said 2900 people were tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday, up from 2100 the day before.
The Premier said she wanted to quadruple NSW’s ICU capacity and that there were 1000 beds with ventilators available already.
“That is something that we’re working hard on behind the scenes and it’s positive news,” she said.
“We’ve been able to double our capacity already.”
Commissioner Fuller said officers would be out in force at the Easter weekend to enforce social-distancing bans.
“We will be going through caravan parks early, issuing warnings to people who may think that they can get around these laws,” he said.
“It’s important over this weekend that we continue the good work and we continue to isolate, as frustrating as that may be.”