NSW 'nearly there' as restrictions ease

Angelo RissoAAP
Standing and drinking in a NSW bar will be allowed from March 17 if no COVID-19 outbreaks occur.
Camera IconStanding and drinking in a NSW bar will be allowed from March 17 if no COVID-19 outbreaks occur.

The NSW premier says the state is "nearly there" in terms of restoring full freedoms to its residents amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but should not treat the rollout of vaccinations as a licence for complacency.

The state declared Auckland as a hotspot on Wednesday evening after three new cases were reported there on Tuesday.

People arriving to NSW from 12.01am on Thursday who have been in Auckland will need to enter hotel quarantine for 14 days or depart Australia.

NSW recorded its 38th straight day of no new local cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday, with one case in hotel quarantine.

More than 3200 people received their first COVID-19 vaccine in the first two days of the NSW rollout, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Wednesday.

Frontline health workers were the first to get the jab across three "vaccination hubs" in Sydney, and received the Pfizer vaccine.

Ms Berejiklian announced indoor gathering limits in NSW would rise to 50 people on Friday, up from 30. Caps at weddings will remain at 300 but up to 30 people will be permitted to dance at any one time.

There will be 50 people allowed in gym classes, while indoor choirs can now number 30 and cinemas can operate at 100 per cent capacity.

Standing and drinking at an indoor bar will be permitted from St Patrick's Day if no further COVID-19 outbreaks occur before March 17.

Despite the easing of restrictions Ms Berejiklian warned against complacency in tackling the virus, saying it would take time for a critical mass of Australians to be immunised.

But she said the state was not far off full normality and the government would seek to give as much policy certainty as possible.

"We're nearly there in terms of what burdens we're imposing on the community, but we're also at a critical stage," Ms Berejiklian told reporters.

"The vaccine rollout is starting and we're confident people will take up the opportunity, but in the meantime we have to be as vigilant as ever.

"Even though we are easing restrictions it's more important than ever to make sure we check-in when we go to venues, keep our social distance, get tested if we have the mildest of symptoms and make sure we follow all the other rules."

In the next three weeks the jab will be offered in NSW to all hotel quarantine workers as well as health staff, cleaners, police officers and security guards.

The public will then be advised who is next in line.

Ms Berejiklian has previously said it is her "strong preference" that only people vaccinated against COVID-19 work in Sydney's hotel quarantine system.

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