NSW has posted a further 12 COVID-related fatalities and 7615 new infections.
Health authorities say 1297 virus patients remain in hospitals across the state, with 81 of them currently requiring intensive care.
Of the positive tests returned in the 24 hours to Saturday evening, 4768 were collected using rapid antigen kits and 2847 processed in labs.
Meanwhile, NSW pubs and nightclubs have put a “terrible” few months in the rear-view mirror with patrons enjoying their first Friday since 2021 without COVID-19 restrictions.
Mitchell Crum, the owner of inner-Sydney hotel The Lord Gladstone, says things went viral when he posted a Facebook event on Friday to celebrate restrictions easing.
Graham Cordery says the “return to normal” at his Surry Hills live music venue The Soda Factory is also cause to rejoice.
“I feel that there’s a real air of positivity,” he said.
“Let’s just say it’s definitely about time they put (live music venues) on an equal footing with many, many other industries that are returning to normal.”
‘Very difficult two years’
Premier Dominic Perrottet announced of a number of COVID-19 restrictions would be rolled back on Friday, including QR code check-ins and the ban on singing and dancing in hospitality venues.
Mr Perrottet said it had been a “very difficult two years”.
“Many people have made enormous sacrifices but the efforts that have been made … ensured we’ve seen downward pressure on our hospital system,” he said.
Singing and dancing are allowed to resume in most settings, the two-metre density limit for indoor venues has been scrapped, and QR check-ins are only required for nightclubs and music festivals with more than 1000 patrons.
The requirement to wear face masks will also cease in most settings next Friday.
Research released on Friday showed NSW has been able to safely return children to classrooms.
The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance has been tracking coronavirus transmission in schools in conjunction with Sydney University, NSW Health and the education department.
The study was led by paediatric infectious disease specialist Archana Koirala, who says there was not a dramatic increase in transmission in school settings despite high numbers of exposures in the final term of 2021.