Don't call it Freedom Day: NSW premier

Opening up 'must be step-by-step, it has to be done cautiously', Premier Gladys Berejiklian says.
Opening up 'must be step-by-step, it has to be done cautiously', Premier Gladys Berejiklian says.

The reopening of NSW from next month should not be seen as "Freedom Day", the NSW premier has warned.

The state is "almost gallop(ing) to the finish line" of 70 per cent full vaccination among its eligible population, which will trigger the reopening, Gladys Berejiklian said on Friday.

But the government and its citizens must still behave responsibly, she said.

"I'm always wary of using terms like Freedom Day because when we start to open up it must be step-by-step, it has to be done cautiously," Ms Berejiklian told reporters.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant told reporters "we will not (ever) go back to pre-COVID".

"We'll always have to be mindful that COVID exists ... It's not going to be back to normal," she said.

NSW residents would have to keep getting booster shots and listening to health advice when there were outbreaks, even when vaccination rates were higher, she said.

The state reported 1043 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday, 20 fewer than the day before.

Eleven people died, of whom 10 were unvaccinated.

Dr Chant said authorities were seeing "pleasing declines" in case numbers but everyone needed to do their part to "hold the course".

While the government is yet to reveal what will happen when the state hits 80 per cent vaccination, Ms Berejiklian has foreshadowed it will mean more freedoms and travel are reinstated.

It had not yet decided on the "challenging question" of when unvaccinated people would be able to take part in society, the premier said.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet made his position clear on Friday afternoon, telling Sydney radio 2GB it should be sooner rather than later.

"Once every single person in this state has had the opportunity be vaccinated with two doses then we should open up for everyone," Mr Perrottet said.

"I want to see more unity and not have a two-tiered society."

Opposition Leader Chris Minns suggested the comment could undermine public health messaging.

"It's really important the NSW government is singing from the same song sheet and continues to encourage people to get vaccinated," Mr Minns said.

The freedoms to be reinstated once the state reaches the 70 per cent target next month are limited to those who are fully vaccinated.

Those who have not received two jabs will not be able to attend restaurants, shops, pubs and other places that are set to reopen.

At least 84 per cent of NSW residents have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and more than 57 per cent are fully vaccinated.

One-third of NSW children aged between 12 and 15 have already been vaccinated despite being eligible for the jab for less than a fortnight.

Of the 11 deaths in the 24-hour reporting period, one person was in their 40s, two were in their 50s, one was in their 60s, six were in their 80s and one was in their 90s.

Among the deaths was a woman in her 80s who died at home in a social housing complex in Sydney's inner west and a man in his 40s who died at home.

Both were diagnosed with COVID-19 after death, Dr Chant said.

An Indigenous man in his 50s died at Broken Hill in the state's west.

It takes the death toll for the current outbreak in NSW to 277.

There are 1186 COVID-19 patients in hospital in NSW, with 232 in intensive care beds and 110 on ventilators.

The Glen Innes and Orange local government areas exited lockdown on Friday, but the lockdown in Hilltops will remain.

Australian Associated Press