NSW records 319 new COVID cases as state nears 80 per cent double-dose vaccination

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NSW has recorded 319 new cases of COVID-19 as the state inches closer to 80 per cent double-dose vaccination, a milestone expected to be reached some time this weekend.

Fully-vaccinated NSW residents will have expanded freedoms including being able to participate in community sport and having up to 20 visitors in their homes on the Monday after NSW hits 80 per cent – expected to be this Monday, October 18.

Other relaxed restrictions at 80 per cent include the removal of a cap on guests at weddings and funerals, masks no longer being required in offices, being able to drink while standing and dancing being permitted indoors and outdoors at hospitality venues.

However, regional travel is no longer on the cards for Sydneysiders at 80 per cent vaccination – it has been pushed back to November 1, to allow regional vaccination to catch up to the rate in Sydney.

On Friday, the NSW government announced that quarantine requirements and caps would be removed for fully-vaccinated overseas arrivals from November 1, with a view to allowing Australians stranded overseas to return home before the end of the year.

Vaccinated travellers already in quarantine at that time will finish quarantining on November 1, even if it has been less than 14 days. Arrivals who are not fully vaccinated will be capped at 210 people per week, and still be subject to mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that “we’re not opening up to everyone” and Australian citizens and residents will take precedence before skilled migrants, international students and tourists are welcomed back.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said that NSW has reached the vaccination milestone “quicker than anyone thought we could”, which is “a testament to the hard work of people across the state turning out to get vaccinated”.

On Saturday, the ACT government announced that some regional NSW residents will now be able to travel into the ACT without a permit, provided they follow public health directions including mandatory mask-wearing indoors and outdoors and checking in on an app.

From midday, fully-vaccinated ACT residents are able to travel freely for any reason to approved locations including Bowral, Thredbo, Moss Vale, Perisher and Batemans Bay – without having to quarantine or complete an exemption form when they return home.

ACT Health said the change was to “better align our travel restrictions with NSW where possible”.

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