NSW will ease its “four square metre” social distancing regulations at the end of next week if no additional COVID-19 outbreaks occur.
With the state on Wednesday clocking up its 17th consecutive day without a locally-acquired COVID-19 case, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said social distancing rules could be eased from next Friday (February 12).
The rule of one person per four square metres at venues will be eased to two square metres if there are no COVID-19 outbreaks in the meantime.
Ms Berejiklian said the state was “in a positive place” and mask policy might also ease in some settings, including places of worship and for hairdressers and beauticians.
However, masks will remain mandatory on public transport for the foreseeable future, with Ms Berejiklian arguing they give commuters confidence to travel.
“I’m making these comments today to provide certainty to business, to make sure that people are prepared and can take advantage of that situation, barring any shocks or outbreaks,” Ms Berejiklian said on Wednesday.
“This means it’s really important for us to maintain our vigilance.
“Keeping the community safe is always our priority but so is keeping society running as normally as possible in a COVID-safe way, and any time we can give notice and certainty to the community, we will.”
In late January, NSW eased gathering restrictions imposed after the COVID-19 outbreak on Sydney’s northern beaches. Maximum indoor visitor numbers were increased to 30 and outdoor gatherings to 50.
Weddings and funerals were also capped at 300 people.
Ms Berejiklian added on Wednesday that singing and dancing remained too high-risk, and nightclubs in NSW would therefore remain shut.
The zero local COVID-19 cases in NSW in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday came from almost 12,000 tests. Two cases were found in hotel quarantine.
On Wednesday, NSW Health said sewage tests had uncovered COVID-19 fragments at the Ireland Park facility, which services the Liverpool catchment.
Meanwhile, Ms Berejiklian this week said her government would take a “proportional response” to the COVID-19 hotel quarantine scare in Western Australia and wouldn’t change the state’s open border policy.
Recent arrivals from WA will be screened after a Perth hotel quarantine security guard tested positive to the virus and two million people in the western state were put into a five-day lockdown.
Travellers from WA who have arrived in the past week are also being told to self-isolate until Friday and confirm if they attended any of the venues listed on the WA Health website.
Any travellers who have been at places of concern must be tested and self-isolate for 14 days.