Govt 'balancing act' on NSW kids' bubble

NSW’s COVID-19 “balancing act” justifies the creation of a “kids’ bubble” to bring some relief to locked down families during the school holidays, the health minister says.

© Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS Brad Hazzard says NSW COVID-19 policy has to balance factors including children’s mental health.

NSW reported 1022 new local cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday and 10 deaths, taking the outbreak toll to 255.

Of the 10 deaths, one person was in their 50s, one was in their 60s, two were in their 70s, five were in their 80s and one was in their 90s.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard also confirmed Tweed, Byron Shire and Kempsey would go into lockdown from Tuesday for seven days after a COVID-19 positive essential worker flew from Sydney to Ballina on Saturday and was active in the community.

Rapid antigen testing had initially deemed the man to be negative.

The Queensland government will as a result lock out Tweed and Byron Shire residents from Wednesday except for limited essential purposes, complicating the lives of many on the border.

Kempsey has not been included in the health order.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had foreshadowed changes to the border bubble earlier on Tuesday.

Those entering Queensland from a non-restricted area can only do so if they transit through restricted areas in private transport and without stopping.

As double-dose vaccination coverage in NSW nears 55 per cent, Mr Hazzard revealed children and teens 18 and under will be allowed to create a “friends’ bubble” of three – allowing them to visit each other’s homes.

The NSW crisis cabinet agreed on Monday night to offer relief to families and kids after months of lockdown and home schooling.

Children don’t have to be vaccinated but all adults living with the children must be fully vaccinated and the children must stay in the same trio.

The three friends must live within five kilometres of each other or in the same local government area.

Mr Hazzard said he hoped the move would boost young people’s mental health after months spent indoors separated from their friends.

He admitted health authorities expressed concerns about the plan but he said the government’s job was to weigh multiple imperatives.

“We’re in an epidemic and everything has to be a balance,” he said.

“The strict epidemiological views would be ‘we all should stay somewhere away from everybody else forever’, but the mental health issues and other socialisation issues and the fact that we’re human beings means there has to be a balance reached.

“We’ve got to recognise the need for mental health and socialisation and the things young people do as part of growing up, but keep them safe.”

Outdoor gatherings of up to five fully vaccinated adults with their children have been permitted for the past week.

There are 1266 COVID-19 patients in NSW hospitals, with 244 people in intensive care units and 118 on ventilators.

The state is likely to reach the 70 per cent double vaccination milestone that will allow more freedoms in the first week of October.

Government modelling suggests daily COVID-19 infections may have already peaked but hospitalisations will peak in October.

Mr Hazzard said he hoped community sport would resume soon and also said aged care visits were being considered.

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