The number of fresh Covid-19 cases in NSW dropped to 961 with nine deaths, as the state inches closer to a post-pandemic summer with relaxed restrictions.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said at a press conference on Sunday morning that 85 per cent of people have had their first dose of a Covid vaccine.
‘Seventy per cent double-dosed is only a couple of weeks away,’ she told reporters.
‘I ask everybody to please hold the line, it’s really important we work hard now so that when we do start opening up at 70 per cent, we are able to do so safely and by bringing everyone together.’
Ms Berejiklian said the government is close to finalising a roadmap for when 80 per cent of people have had two jabs, but unvaccinated people may have to wait another two months to access the same freedoms.
The number of new cases has been steadily dropping over the last week, and fell from 1007 on Saturday.
October 11 has been pegged as NSW’s ‘Freedom Day’, but liberties will only be available to those who have been fully vaccinated. Pictured: A woman in Sydney
When asked about the kinds of freedoms available for the fully vaccinated, Ms Berejiklian said life will not return to normal overnight.
‘While all of us would like to think once we get to that 80 per cent double dose it will be back to living without Covid, but it will not be, it will be a new Covid normal,’ she said.
‘But we will enjoy so many more freedoms than what we have today and we will all adjust our lives and I am confident because of the goodwill demonstrated by everybody that people will step up and take responsibility.’
She also said some communities could be locked down in the future if there are outbreaks in certain areas.
Some restrictions, including social distancing and mask wearing in some settings, will be ‘with us indefinitely’, Ms Berejiklian explained.
The premier was uncertain when people will be able to walk into a business without signing in with a QR code, but said the practice may be relaxed when freedoms are granted to unvaccinated residents.
NSW is on track for 70 per cent of residents to be fully vaccinated by mid-October. Pictured: Women at the beach
When asked whether people will have to be fully vaccinated to go to places like outdoor pools, she fumbled and defaulted to Dr Jeremy McAnulty from NSW Health.
He explained the risk of transmission in outdoor settings is much lower, and that rules are still being finalised.
Dr McAnulty said the highest number of new cases are in western Sydney suburbs of concern, including Auburn, Guildford, punchbowl, Maryland, Penrith, Bankstown, Bossley Park and Liverpool.
Six men and three women died from the virus overnight on Sunday, including one person in their 40s, two in their 60s, two in their 70s and four in their 80s.
‘Eight people were unvaccinated and only one received one dose of Covid vaccine,’ Dr McAnulty said.
‘Three were from south-western Sydney, four were from Western Sydney, one was from Sydney’s inner-west and one was from Sydney’s Eastern suburbs.’
Ms Berejiklian also said she was looking forward to welcoming thousands of Australians from overseas from mid-October.
‘I would feel very comfortable once we get to that 80 per cent double dose vaccination to have Sydney Airport be the gateway to our nation,’ she said on Saturday.
‘If airlines want to put on extra flights to Sydney that would be great, joy, it means more people can come home, and also in an affordable way.’
She said fully vaccinated Australians may be able to go on international holidays once the 80 per cent target is met.
About 84 per cent of people in NSW have had one dose of a Covid vaccine. Pictured: People arriving at the South Western Sydney Vaccination Centre, at Macquarie Fields in Sydney
Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) announced 1007 new Covid cases on Saturday
There were 1007 new cases reported on Saturday – more than half of which were in the coronavirus hotspots of western and southwest Sydney.
But authorities are also concerned about growing case numbers in the Illawarra, which saw 70 new cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday.
Greater Sydney has now been in lockdown for more than 13 weeks, with some fun-starved residents giving marching orders after large crowds gathered at beaches in Bondi and Manly on Friday night.
Police issued three fines for public health order breaches and a number of a move-on directions as they dispersed revellers enjoying the warm weather in Manly.
Many parts of regional NSW are also subject to stay-at-home orders, as authorities battle the outbreak of the virulent Delta strain.
Australia hit 75.4 per cent first-dose vaccination of its 16-plus population on Saturday.
Fully vaccinated residents are allowed to picnic in groups of five in Sydney (pictured: people picnicking near Sydney Harbour
‘I’m pleased to report 75 per cent of the nation’s 16s and over, have rolled up their sleeves to receive a first vaccine dose,’ federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Twitter.
‘This means we have less than one million first doses to go before we hit 80 per cent.’
The ACT leads the way out of all states and territories with 85.93 per cent first dose coverage, ahead of NSW (85.18 per cent) and Victoria (76.91 per cent).
Minor easing of Covid-19 restrictions will be triggered in Victoria at the 80 per cent single-dose target, which is forecast to be hit mid-week.