NSW premier announces new Covid restrictions amid Omicron wave

NSW will introduce a number of new restrictions in a bid to flatten the curve of the state's growing coronavirus infections.

Premier Dominic Perrottet told reporters on Friday singing and dancing would no longer be allowed in indoor venues from Saturday until January 27.

"That does not include weddings or performers or classes that people may be conducting," Mr Perrottet said.

He said major events would continue as planned, but NSW Health was currently reviewing those being held at high-risk venues.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet speaks to the media during a press conference at South Western Sydney Vaccination Centre.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet speaks to the media during a press conference at South Western Sydney Vaccination Centre. Source: AAP

"If you're in a hospitality venue, if you can sit down while drinking, please do so," the premier said.

Mr Perrottet encouraged people to minimise mingling over the next weeks including household visits.

If people have to do so, he "highly" recommended having events outside.

Vaccinations, including boosters, will now be mandatory for front-line workers.

"We will move to boosters being included as part of that fully vaccinated determination," the premier said.

NSW recorded more than 38,000 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday, along with a further 11 deaths.

Like Victoria, NSW will now treat positive rapid antigen tests like positive PCR tests with a registration system in the works through the health department and Service NSW. It will be released next week.

It is also expected anyone who tests positive with a RAT will undergo seven days of self-isolation along with their household contacts.

The premier said he expected more RATs would be available in the coming weeks.

A couple are seen at Mrs Macquaries Point with limited numbers enforced during New Year's Eve celebrations in Sydney.
People are being encourage to socialise outdoors for the time being. Source: Getty Images

When Covid-19 cases will peak in NSW

The state government has looked at three modelling scenarios as to what hospitalisation rates might look like in the near future.

NSW Health Deputy Secretary Susan Pearce told reporters on Friday, it is expected Covid-19 cases will hit their peak by the third week of January.

"We believe, by the middle of February, we will be certainly well past the peak of this," she said.

The premier said the modelling "is encouraging".

"Whilst it will be a difficult few weeks in NSW, our people and the effort we have made to go out, to get vaccinated, to get boosted, has been key to opening up our society, to living alongside the virus," he said.

Ms Pearce said the worst-case scenario is based off what is currently occurring in New York. New York recorded more than 84,000 Covid-19 cases on Thursday and 130 deaths.

Health care workers collect information from members of the public as they queue in their cars for a COVID-19 PCR test at the St Vincent’s Drive-through Clinic at Bondi Beach in Sydney.
People queue for testing at St Vincent’s Drive-through Clinic at Bondi Beach in Sydney. Source: AAP

Transmission occurring in nightclubs, bars, CHO says

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said about 50 per cent of cases in the past seven days were people aged 20-39.

"The transmission is happening in a variety of settings," Dr Chant said.

"Obviously in those household and social gatherings that people are having, and also in places like pubs, clubs, nightclubs.

"And the concern around the behaviour of dancing and singing, I suppose, just to explain to people why we're picking on that as a transmission mechanism - is the fact that when people are in those environments and dancing, you're actually encountering and bringing together people from very different social networks."

The CHO said it is hoped the new restrictions on singing and dancing in venues will help "blunt that peak" in infections.

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