NSW has 261 cases, new dining vouchers

·2-min read

NSW residents have been given an extra two vouchers to spend on food and entertainment, as the state reports 261 new coronavirus cases.

The new infections were diagnosed from more than 73,027 tests in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday, slightly under the number of tests the day before.

No new deaths were reported, but 185 people remain in hospital with the virus: 27 of them in intensive care and 10 on ventilators.

Some 94.5 per cent of people across the state have had at least one dose of a COVID vaccine and 92.2 per cent two doses, bringing NSW closer to its goal of 95 per cent vaccination coverage.

That milestone, if reached before December 15, will prompt the early easing of restrictions, according to the state's roadmap out of lockdown.

Changes were also made on Thursday to isolation requirements for close contacts at schools, with students no longer having to isolate for a full seven days.

Students who are close contacts of a positive case will be required to get a PCR test as soon as possible after being notified of exposure.

If it is negative, they may return to school immediately, so long as they provide negative Rapid Antigen Home Test results for the next seven days.

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean says the government is "working through" whether parents will have to pay for the rapid antigen testing and "will be looking to make an announcement on that shortly".

But NSW residents have another thing to look forward to, with additional vouchers promised in October available to use from Friday.

The vouchers are the latest instalment in the government's Dine and Discover program, with each adult in NSW granted an additional $25 to spend on dining out and $25 to spend on entertainment.

Treasurer Matt Kean said more than $276 million worth of vouchers have already been spent by 4.8 million customers across the state during the pandemic, proving to be a lifeline for 15,000 businesses.

"The two $25 vouchers will ensure we end 2021 with a bang and provide a much needed boost for businesses right across NSW as we head into a revitalised 2022."

"We're encouraging people to get out and support local businesses to support our economy."

The vouchers are valid until the end of June next year.

They can be downloaded through the state's digital services app, and paper vouchers are also available through ServiceNSW.

Mr Kean says people using the vouchers typically spend another $16 on top of it, and Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello says it's not just the businesses where the vouchers are used that benefit.

"When you go to the museum you might use your voucher, but on the way you will probably get an Uber or a taxi, and you might stop for dinner somewhere else, so there's all these other multipliers associated." Mr Dominello says.

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