News State NSW News NSW cases steady, as it mulls changes to pandemic powers

NSW cases steady, as it mulls changes to pandemic powers

Dominic Perrottet
Dominic Perrottet has been questioned at NSW budget estimates over the cost of his ministry. Photo: AAP
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NSW has another 231 COVID cases, and no new fatalities as the state government mulls which emergency pandemic powers should be extended.

The new cases came from 88,104 tests in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday.

Some 207 people remain in hospital, with 33 in intensive care.

Meanwhile, Premier Dominic Perrottet has put off a call on extending the state’s emergency pandemic powers until next year.

Under the Public Health Act – passed in 2010 – Health Minister Brad Hazzard can make broad public health orders, like those during the pandemic used to restrict gatherings, limit travel or mandate masks or vaccination in some settings.

It is understood Mr Hazzard, on behalf of chief health officer Kerry Chant, this week sought changes that would make it easier for the state to force quarantine or self-isolation on people exposed to the virus.

But Mr Perrottet said he would consider the issue over the Christmas break. He said he would extend only the health provisions that he deemed “absolutely necessary”.

“It’s obviously an evolving situation with the government. We need to make sure that we don’t have a heavy-handed government … There will no doubt be provisions that need to be extended,” he said.

“I like anyone wants to make sure that we have government out of the way, but at the same time we’ve got to keep the protection and the healthcare of people right across our state.”

Mr Perrottet warned case numbers and hospitalisations would increase in NSW, pointing to the European experience as that continent approaches winter.

Police Minister David Elliott said he did not want police to retain the power to fine people for COVID-19 breaches.

“The police don’t like these powers because these powers mean that we’re in a pandemic,” he said.

On Tuesday night, Mr Hazzard rejected suggestions he was seeking to drastically expand the powers given to the health minister.

“Far from granting additional powers, the powers are exactly the same as exist now and are simply tweaks on timing for two provisions in the massive Public Health Act,” he said in a statement.

NSW is creeping closer to its target of 95 per cent double-dose vaccination, with 94.2 per cent of people over 16 having had at least one jab.

More than 91 per cent of adults are fully vaccinated.