NSW has recorded three new cases of coronavirus from 9000 tests in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday, taking the state’s total to 3074 with six people in intensive care.
Of the three cases, one was an overseas traveller, one a close contact of someone in the eastern suburbs and the other case remains under investigation.
“We need vigilance and to make sure the sacrifice we’ve all endured in the past few months sees positive outcomes going forward,” Health Minister Brad Hazzard told reporters.
“Like all of us, the restaurateurs, the cafe owners are learning, I think citizens are learning – not everyone understands what social distancing is.
“(You should) treat everybody like they might have COVID-19.”
NSW Health’s Dr Jeremy McAnulty said while the three new cases are a small increase, it remains important that the community is vigilant and continues coming forward for testing.
“We do know that the virus is bubbling underneath the surface, and the really important messages that people get tested if they have any symptoms at all,” he said.
“We know that the virus is still swirling around the world. It is a major issue which causes havoc in many countries. We have been really lucky in Australia and New South Wales, we have been able to suppress it.
“To continue suppressing it we need to follow the public health advice: social distancing, high rates of testing in New South Wales -we want to keep it high so that even people with the most moderate or mild symptoms come forward for testing.”
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy had earlier warned that “the virus is still there”, with the total number of cases in Australia passing 7000.
There have now been 7035 cases in Australia, with roughly 15 new cases recorded each day this week
Meanwhile, police have praised the overall restraint of NSW residents as the coronavirus-prompted shutdowns of pubs, bars and restaurants were eased around the state.
Dining venues were from Friday able to take up to 10 patrons if they maintain social distancing, including alcohol table service with a meal at NSW pubs and clubs.
Today is the day lockdown lifts in Sydney and we can go to a restaurant and SIT DOWN!!!!!!!!! and get asked what we want to eat!!!!! AHH the excitement is real
— sophie jones (@sophjones7) May 14, 2020
NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Joe Cassar told reporters on Saturday police would continue to work with venue proprietors as patrons return to their local haunts.
He admitted rainy conditions in Sydney on Friday night had suppressed the number of people seeking tables, with 10-person limits and distancing requirements easier to implement.
“We’ve got early feedback from our police on the ground there’s an acceptance conditions have been relaxed and there’s been compliance with the new conditions,” Mr Cassar said.
“We’re in a very positive situation with low numbers being recorded and just ask members of the community to continue to comply with those conditions.”
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned COVID-19 case numbers will inevitably rise as rules are eased, but diners on Friday seemed comfortable returning to their favourite eateries.
Please be extra careful as we ease some restrictions in NSW today. Maintain good hand hygiene, practise social distancing and if you’re unwell, get tested and stay home. More info: https://t.co/ka9q1ClOKn and 13 77 88 pic.twitter.com/huxmd1YIow
— Gladys Berejiklian (@GladysB) May 15, 2020
In Sydney’s inner west, Shannah Baichoo was among the first to return to popular Summer Hill bar The Rio, resuming what was once a regular Friday night ritual with her husband.
“It’s like a signifier of life becoming normal again. It feels amazing,” Ms Baichoo told AAP.
For The Rio’s operational manager Fabrizio Culici, pouring his first beer into a glass pint felt “phenomenal” after weeks of takeaways and deliveries.
“The sense of relief is just fantastic,” Mr Culici told AAP.
“We just hope … that this is certainly not going to be a short-lived thing and we go back to deliveries, because it’s going to be very hard to survive if that happens.”
Under eased restrictions, outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are now permitted and up to five people, including children, can visit another NSW household.
Religious gatherings and places of worship can welcome up to 10 people, and 10 guests are also allowed at weddings, 20 at indoor funerals and 30 at outdoor funerals from Friday.
Outdoor equipment including gyms and playgrounds can now be used with caution, with people encouraged to wipe down equipment, while outdoor pools are open with restrictions.