National News

NSW opening not 'complete smooth sailing'

NSW is trailblazing a path out of COVID-19 lockdowns but its premier accepts the course will be less than perfect just days out from reopening.

Dominic Perrottet admits the road to recovery won't be "complete smooth sailing" as no other state has "gone down this path" yet.

"Everyone just needs to treat everyone with kindness and respect," he told Sydney radio 2GB on Friday, amid fears hospitality and retail staff from Monday will bear the brunt of tracking patrons' vaccination status.

Doctors including the Australian Medical Association of NSW said changes to the state's plan to emerge from lockdown could overwhelm the hospital system and burn out healthcare workers.

"Relaxing restrictions too soon will not be a popular decision if it means the number of people contracting the virus and ending up in hospital skyrockets," AMA NSW president Danielle McMullen said.

The new premier said he knew the new phase was "going to be difficult" but asked for patience as "we learn as we go ahead".

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant urged people to continue wearing masks and maintain physical distancing as the state reopens.

"It's an exciting time but I caution everyone to do everything safely," she said on Friday.

There were 646 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and 11 more deaths, reported in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday.

As of Thursday, 89.8 per cent of people 16 and over had received their first vaccine dose.

Mr Perrottet said the state being on the cusp of 90 per cent first-dose jabs made its rates of vaccination among the highest in the world.

COVID-19 deaths since the start of the outbreak in June have reached 414, including nine men and two women in the latest 24-hour period.

Some 856 people are in NSW hospitals with COVID-19, with 170 of them in intensive care and 75 on ventilators.

A revised strategy to reopen NSW includes 10 adult visitors to be allowed in homes, 30 permitted to gather outdoors, and 100 guests at weddings and funerals.

Indoor swimming pools will be able to open and all school students will be back in the classroom by October 25. All teachers will have to be fully vaccinated by the same date.

From Monday, people will be able to travel between Sydney, Shellharbour, Wollongong, the Blue Mountains and the Central Coast but not into the regions.

The United Workers' Union, which represents many frontline and public-facing workers, is concerned members checking vaccination status could be put in unsafe situations.

The integrated Service NSW vaccine certificate or passport app is still being trialled with 500 people in regional NSW.

Opposition health spokesman Ryan Park said employers were confused and concerned.

"Just this morning I was speaking to a small business owner who didn't have a clue what will happen on Monday if they get a positive case in their local business," he said.

Dr Chant also confirmed a new type of Delta variant had been identified in eight positive cases.

"There's no indication that this new strain presents any differences regarding transmission, vaccine effectiveness or severity," Dr Chant said.

Mr Park queried its impact on easing restrictions, saying "every new strain brings new concerns".

Restrictions will ease further when 80 per cent of the adult population is fully jabbed, expected about October 25, when 3000 people will be allowed at ticketed outdoor events and nightclubs can reopen, though dancing will not be permitted.

Masks will not be required in office buildings in an attempt to encourage workers back to Sydney's CBD.

These freedoms will apply only for the fully vaccinated until December 1, when freedoms are set to be restored for the unvaccinated.'

© AAP 2021