NSW has confirmed another 1284 local COVID cases and 12 more deaths, as it reveals plans to trial home quarantine for selected arrivals to Australia.
The deaths of six men and six women – two in their 20s and others aged from their 50s to their 90s – take the state’s toll from its devastating Delta outbreak to 222.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her government was working on plans for when 80 per cent of eligible NSW residents were fully vaccinated against the virus.
“One of the things that we expect to occur at 80 per cent of all those is to consider our international borders,” she said on Friday.
“That’s Aussies returning home through Sydney airport but also our citizens having the opportunity to go overseas when previously they weren’t able to.”
A trial of seven-day home quarantine is expected to start in NSW by the end of September.
“NSW has already welcomed home and quarantined nearly 250,000 Australian people – probably as much as all other states combined. This is our responsibility, not just to our citizens but Australia,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“All of us have to play our part in helping Australia open up and reconnect world and ensure we do it safely and according to these plans.”
State Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres is behind planning for the trial, which will start by the end of September. It will involve about 175 double-vaccinated arrivals to Sydney, chosen by NSW Police and NSW Health.
“This is part of the national plan. We know that we have got to be able to adjust to different settings as we move to living with COVID,” he said.
“This trial is endorsed by the Commonwealth government. The seven days is something that the entire nation needs to be able to see in practice.
“Australia must reopen. We must get rid of lockdowns, we must get rid of hotel quarantine, we must re-engage with the world. Sydney is a global city and it must engage with the globe. This is an important step in that direction.”
Elsewhere, there are further concerns for the regional town of Young, where several COVID cases have been confirmed. One was reported before the 8pm cut-off on Thursday, with that person’s household contacts subsequently also testing positive.
Deputy chief health officer Marianne Gale said NSW Health was advising the government about recommendations for Young.
There had been speculation earlier in the week that the town would go back into lockdown. NSW Health issued shutdown orders for other regional centres – Albury, Lismore and Yass – this week after cases were ident in those local government areas.
There are 1245 COVID patients in NSW hospitals. Of those, 228 are in intensive care, including 112 on ventilators.
Meanwhile, NSW Labor has called for more freedoms for outdoor exercise and recreation to be restored to western Sydney locals, including additional freedoms for outdoor picnics.
“The chief health officer has repeatedly informed the community that the transmission of the Delta variant is far more prevalent in indoor settings so it makes sense for the government to take a look at this,” opposition health spokesman Ryan Park said on Friday.
“It still could remain restricted to double vaccinated households but surely spending a few hours outdoors at this very good time is a small way that families can try and get some enjoyment back.”
Deputy Premier John Barilaro on Friday said his government would stick to its “measured approach” for reopening after lockdown.
SA trial to expand
NSW’s quarantine announcement came as South Australia said it would expand its app-based home quarantine system to cater for up to 250 returned travellers each week from October.
The system has so far been trialled on arrivals from interstate and with about 90 Australian Defence Force personnel who returned this week from lower-risk countries.
Thirty people have so far successfully completed 14-day quarantine periods and have been released from isolation.
Health Minister Stephen Wade said the results so far indicated the system could safely manage home quarantine for selected people.