The ACT has reported another 20 locally acquired COVID-19 cases while handing residents a green light to visit 26 extra NSW postcodes as part of relaxing quarantine requirements.
The territory now has 495 active cases. Fifteen virus patients are in Canberra hospitals, 10 of them in intensive care.The capital’s death toll for the current outbreak stands at eight.
Health officials say almost 2400 virus tests were conducted in the 24 hours to Friday evening.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced on Saturday morning that travel arrangements with southern NSW locations including Batemans Bay and Perisher Valley would be relaxed from midday.
Travel without the need to quarantine for 14 days on return is now permitted across 53 NSW postcodes.
“As more people get fully vaccinated in regional NSW and the ACT, Canberrans can expect that travel restrictions will be relaxed further,” Mr Barr said.
“This is a balancing act. Canberrans didn’t go through nine weeks of lockdown only to see a spike in cases.”
The ACT, however, has flagged it could still impose restrictions on travelling to localised hotspots, even when state borders are fully open to the capital.
While it’s likely travel to all of NSW will be possible by November 1, Mr Barr says localised restrictions could still be imposed, should an area get a high number of cases.
But he said his expectation, given high vaccination rates, was that travel would be a lot more free after November 1.
The ACT marked its first full day out of lockdown on Friday, after more than two months of residents being subject to stay at home orders.
Long lines were seen outside Canberra’s hairdressers, while cafes, restaurants and pubs were packed.
However, retail will have to wait for another two weeks to be able to welcome customers in store, with only click and collect options or booked visits available.
A further easing of restrictions will be made on October 29, when the ACT is expected to hit 80 per cent fully vaccinated.
It will be shortly after that, on November 1, that free travel between the ACT and NSW is expected to take place.
Mr Barr said talks would also take place between the ACT and NSW governments on how people coming into Sydney from overseas would be able to return to Canberra.
“We need to resolve with NSW what transit arrangements are, once they have landed in Sydney,” he said.
The resumption of international travel into Sydney from November is only expected to be for Australian citizens and permanent residents.Internet Explorer Channel Network