Twice as many customers have been allowed back in NSW cafes and restaurants from Friday, as a suite of virus restrictions were relaxed across greater Sydney.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian, meanwhile, said the growing COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne was not yet sufficiently severe to consider closing the border.
NSW confirmed its 26th consecutive day without local acquired cases on Friday, as well as two new cases in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
This is two days short of virus elimination in the community.
From Friday, the state has reverted to the “two-square-metre” rule for indoor venues and outdoor events, and mandatory mask use has been scrapped in most settings.
Face coverings are now optional in hairdressers, beauty salons, places of worship and hospitality. They remain mandatory on public transport and in taxis and ride share cars.
When the changes were announced on Wednesday, Ms Berejiklian said masks were still strongly recommended.
Gyms will maintain the “four-square-metre” rule, while caps on weddings and funerals remain at 300.
NSW Health also wants anyone in NSW who was at Melbourne Airport’s terminal four from 4.45am-2pm on February 9 to immediately isolate, get tested and remain in isolation for 14 days, regardless of their test result.
Warnings are also extended to household contacts of people who were in the airport terminal at that time. They are asked to stay in isolation until their contact receives a negative virus result.
“In addition, anyone who attended any terminal at Melbourne Airport on February 7-8 must immediately get tested and isolate until a negative result is received,” NSW Health said in a statement on Friday.
Victorian health authorities declared the entire terminal a virus expose site on Friday.
NSW Health is contacting about 7000 people who have entered NSW from Victoria after attending venues of concern.
The heightened warnings came as Melbourne’s Holiday Inn COVID outbreak grew to 13 on Friday and amid reports the Victorian government was about to impose a snap lockdown to stamp out the cluster.
Since February 4, NSW has required all air and rail travellers arriving from Victoria to fill out passenger declaration forms.
But also on Friday, Ms Berejiklian said she had resisted closing the NSW-Victoria border too hastily.
“It’s an evolving situation but not a situation where the government can’t really get on top of it … I have confidence that they will. In NSW we had a similar situation before Christmas,” she told Nine’s Today show.
“There’s no reason for us to close the border. The one and only occasion where we have closed the border was to Victoria and that is when they had in excess of 150 cases a day … we are nowhere near that.”
NSW contact tracers are still hunting the source of a COVID-19 infection in a returned traveller who tested positive two days after completing the required 14 days of hotel quarantine.
NSW Health is investigating the possibility it is an old infection from overseas.