NSW has updated mask usage recommendations to include public-facing workers, worshippers and people near clusters.
The state recorded 12 new cases in the past 24 hours - with just one in hotel quarantine.
An 83-year-old man connected to the Crossroads Hotel cluster in southwest Sydney died on Saturday morning, taking the NSW death toll to 52 with the state’s first COVID-19 death since May.
During a press conference on Sunday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said authorities would not enforce mask usage but urged residents to wear one during four specific circumstances.
As well as in situations where social distancing is impossible, such as on public transport, masks should be worn in NSW by public-facing employees such as hospitality or supermarket workers, worshippers and residents of suburbs near clusters.
Woolworths and some other food retailers, like Harris Farm Markets, are already encouraging customers to wear masks while in-store to protect their staff.
Ms Berejiklian said she herself would be wearing a mask during her next grocery store trip.
Those who are elderly or suffer underlying health issues should also wear masks.
"We have been talking about masks for several weeks but obviously the persistent situation in Victoria gives us cause for alarm in terms of the potential for further seeding in NSW, and it is about risk mitigation strategy," Ms Berejiklian said.
"We're going to the next stage of assessing what else and how else we can decrease the risk and break the current chain coming through NSW."
However, Ms Berejiklian reiterated social distancing remained the first line of defence.
The premiere’s recommendations follows Victoria’s announcement of more than 600 new cases on Saturday.
NSW clusters continue to grow
A popular venue on Sydney's Northern Beaches was on Saturday forced to shut after hosting a COVID-19 positive patron on the afternoon of July 24.
The Bavarian in Manly underwent deep cleaning and reopened to the public on Saturday afternoon. Patrons on the afternoon of July 24 should monitor for respiratory symptoms.
The Harpoon and Hotel Harry in Surry Hills, Matinee Coffee in Marrickville and Tan Viet in Cabramatta were among other venues required to undertake deep cleaning in recent days.
NSW Police Minister David Elliott on Sunday said nine fines had been issued overnight for breaching restrictions, while Liquor and Gaming NSW has fined Sydney's Watsons Bay Hotel $5000 after finding patrons drinking while standing and poorly-spaced poker machines.
It was the 15th NSW venue to be fined in the past three weeks for breaches.
"It’s beggars belief that anybody would turn on the TV news bulletin today and see what's going on in Melbourne and want to breach the law in NSW," Mr Elliott told reporters.
“These are recommendations to keep all of us safe, and they’re recommendations to make sure we keep NSW in the position we are in. I cannot stress enough how critical the next few weeks will be,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.