Some NSW regions to come out of lockdown
Several NSW regions that have had no COVID-19 cases in the past fortnight will be released from lockdown at midnight on Friday.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday the areas enjoying new freedoms from the weekend will still have some restrictions "to make sure we limit the spread of disease in our regional communities".
The areas include the mid-north coast, the north coast, Albury, the Riverina and Murrumbidgee areas.
Lockdown will continue for the southern parts of the state, the southeast, the Illawarra, the Shoalhaven, Hunter, Central Coast, central west and parts of the far west.
In the areas where stay-at-home orders have been lifted, hospitality venues and shops, hairdressing and nail salons can reopen with restrictions.
Up to to five people will be allowed in a home and up to 20 can gather outdoors.
Gyms and sporting facilities will also be able to open.
However, Deputy Premier John Barilaro warned stay-at -home orders could return if even one new local COVID-19 case was recorded.
"You are not coming back to a pre-lockdown environment," he said.
"There will be capacity limits for our hotels, cafes and restaurants, including the four square metre rule, mask-wearing, social distancing," he told reporters.
While face-to-face learning in schools will return for those LGAs out of lockdown, certain activities won't resume - including community sport.
Mr Barilaro said people there could return to shopping, working and enjoying time with family and friends albeit with restrictions.
"Schools will return, and they return at a Level 3 COVID plan within schools, which means no extracurricular activities, no assemblies, there's a range of mask-wearing provisions."
There were dozens of cases of the virus recorded in regional NSW in the 24-hours until 8pm on Wednesday, with cases increasing significantly in the Illawarra Shoalhaven and Central Coast and NSW Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant urged people there to get tested and vaccinated.
In western NSW 24 cases were recorded, 22 on the Central Coast, 23 in the Illawarra Shoalhaven, 12 in the Hunter New England and four in the far west.
There were also three cases recorded in the southern part of the state.
Mr Barilaro offered hope to regions that remain under lockdown that restrictions could ease when there have been no cases in the area for 14 days.
"We look at sewage surveillance, exposure sites. They're the thresholds we've set with NSW Health that will either put someone back into lockdown or have the opportunity for some to come out," he said.