NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has promised to ease COVID-19 restrictions in a week’s time if cases remain low, with the rules to be as close as possible to those in place before the Avalon outbreak.
The state recorded zero locally acquired cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday, the third day in a row without local transmission.
Testing numbers were up after the government’s plea for more people to come forward. Some 19,959 people were tested in the reporting period, up from 10,621 the previous day.
Three cases were identified, all people in hotel quarantine who had acquired the virus overseas.
“Please know that if things continue the way they are, by this time next week there will certainly be decisions made around getting us as close as possible to pre-Avalon conditions,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Wednesday.
The lifting of restrictions depends on good testing numbers and low-to-zero community transmission continuing, she said.
The Premier urged patience, with health advisers warning that if the government moves too quickly it could cause a flare-up.
Ms Berejiklian said masks were likely to remain compulsory on public transport to give people the confidence they need to return to work safely.
That may change in the future once the government has time to study and manage the new strains of the virus, the premier suggested.
December’s Avalon outbreak caused the government to clamp down on numbers for both indoor and outdoor gatherings in Greater Sydney, the Central Coast and Wollongong.
Restrictions for weddings, funerals and religious services were also bolstered
Greater Sydney, Central Coast and Wollongong residents have also had to wear masks indoors when out of the home for the past few weeks.
Ms Berejiklian singled out weddings on Wednesday, saying she was aware of the angst that restrictions have caused.
“This is the last weekend you’ll have to go through before there’ll be some relief,” she promised aspiring brides and grooms.
The announcement came after Ms Berejiklian chaired a crisis cabinet meeting by Zoom on Wednesday morning.
More cases at Australian Open
Three more people linked to the Australian Open have tested positive for coronavirus in Victoria.
Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville confirmed the new cases had been detected on Wednesday morning, meaning they would be included in Thursday’s figures.
She said authorities are “very confident” one of the cases is a tennis player who is shedding the virus and is not infectious.
The player is already in hard lockdown as they were on board a flight into Melbourne with another positive case.
The other two cases are a player and their support person.
The duo and their close contacts are isolating while the test results are confirmed.
Three other COVID-19 cases were confirmed in hotel quarantine on Wednesday, two returned travellers and one linked to the Australian Open.
It brings the total number of positive cases linked to the tournament to 10.
A total of 72 players remain in hard lockdown after being deemed close contacts of positive cases on three charter flights into Melbourne from Abu Dhabi, Doha and Los Angeles.
Australian Open director Craig Tiley said 3200 tests have been conducted on the more than 1200 players, support staff and tournament officials.
Good news for Queensland
The Queensland government is set to ease coronavirus restrictions in Greater Brisbane on Friday.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said despite the lack of new cases, there were still traces of the virus being picked up in sewage testing across the state.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said restrictions like mandatory face masks in indoor public places and social distancing were “100 per cent” on track to be lifted at 1am on Friday.
The news comes as one of three women accused of breaching the state’s strict border controls last year and sparking a major COVID-19 emergency in South-East Queensland had one charge against her dropped.
In July, police charged Diana Lasu, Olivia Winnie Muranga and Haja Timbo with providing false and misleading border documents, after the group allegedly lied about travelling to Melbourne, which was a known hotspot at the time.
All three were also charged with fraud in relation to allegedly dodging mandatory hotel quarantine requirements.