COVID-19 restrictions are set to ease in NSW as concerns about a recent mystery case abate and the state notches up 24 consecutive days with no local transmission of the virus.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Wednesday fears had eased about the asymptomatic person who inexplicably tested positive two days after completing the required 14 days of hotel quarantine in Sydney.
The case triggered numerous health alerts in the Illawarra region and at a southern Sydney cafe after the person attended multiple venues on the weekend.
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said she believed transmission in hotel quarantine “was very unlikely” after genomic testing indicated the case was not related to any other cases in the hotel at the same time.
Further investigations were necessary to determine the source of the case, including the possibility it’s an old infection from overseas.
The person had remained asymptomatic and was “pretty non-infectious” when they were out and about in the community, Dr Chant said.
Meanwhile, the premier said NSW would increase its weekly cap on international arrivals to 3000 from Monday because “it’s the right thing to do” and the system could handle it.
“The sooner Australians come home … the sooner we can work on other issues which support our economic activity,” she told reporters.
“While we have increasing numbers of people coming from Monday through Sydney airport and while we do have the more contagious strains of the virus becoming more prominent … it’s really important for us to stay vigilant,” she urged.
Mask rules relaxed
However, on Friday NSW will revert to the two-square-metre rule for indoor and outdoor events and masks will only be compulsory on public transport and in taxis and Ubers.
“Hospitality workers, people attending places of worship, won’t need to mandatorily wear a mask, but we do … strongly recommend that especially in an indoor setting, where you can’t guarantee social distancing, you should be wearing a mask, especially if you are a vulnerable person,” the premier said.
Restrictions are easing across the Greater Sydney region including Wollongong, the Central Coast and Blue Mountains.
“We want to continue to give the community and businesses the confidence to move forward, especially with the expansion of the two-square-metre rule which will allow most venues to double their capacity,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Gyms will maintain the four-square-metre rule, while caps on weddings and funerals also remain at 300.
Only 20 guests can dance at weddings and singing in public will remain limited to five people.
“We want to mitigate against super-spreading events, so please appreciate and respect why we continue to say no dancing, no singing, no mingling,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Meanwhile, NSW Health has expanded its warning for people who were at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport after two more cases of COVID-19 were linked to the quarantine hotel which has now been closed .
“We are concerned by what’s occurring in Victoria, we know it’s a moving issue, which is why the restrictions we are easing on Friday are what we anticipated,” Ms Berejiklian said.
NSW recorded no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday with four new cases detected in returned travellers from 18,885 tests.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits.
If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.