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NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has reintroduced some Covid restrictions as case numbers soar ahead of the Christmas holidays.
From midnight, masks will be required in indoor settings in NSW until January 27, and density limits on venues and QR codes will also be reintroduced.
"That’s just to ensure as we move through this period of time we do have that support for our health officers over this summer and holiday period," Mr Perrettot told reporters on Thursday.
“In addition to that, we’re encouraging people not to mingle and when you’re out at a restaurant or cafe and a pub or a club, please where possible don’t mingle."
Hospitality venues will move to the 1 person per 2 square meters rule in indoor settings from December 27 to January 27. Working from home if possible is also recommended.
Mr Perrottet also announced rapid antigen tests will be free for NSW residents next year.
"We see this as crucial as we move through this next part of the pandemic," he said.
QR codes back 'in a limited way'
The Premier said the reintroduction of Covid restrictions was to support the health system.
"What we're seeing at the moment is that many of our health workers, around 1,500 just today, are either sick or unable through testing requirements to be able to come into work," he explained.
He said QR codes were being reintroduced in a "limited way" in low-risk settings.
"The other aspect arising out of national cabinet yesterday was the national agreement to put in place a QR code," he said.
"Many of you will be aware we've had those QR codes in place for some time. We kept them in place for high-risk settings.
"What we will do in relation to retail settings and lower risk settings ... we'll bring them back in a limited way."
'If you don't need a test don't get one': Perrottet
Mr Perrottet asked people only get a PCR test if they are showing symptoms, saying there are too many people lining up for tests putting added pressure on the system.
“At the moment what we’re seeing is that many people across the state who are asymptomatic and do not feel unwell are lining up for a PCR test," he said.
“This is putting enormous pressure on the system and I thank everybody for their patience as we go through this period of time. But we need to make sure those people who need to get tested in a timely way."
He said don't get a test if notified by the QR code system but to monitor for symptoms and get a PCR test if feeling unwell.
"The increase in testing (while we appreciate those great numbers) is important but if you don't need a test, don't get one because it [does delay] the turnaround time."
Mr Perrottet urged eligible people to book in for a booster shot.
"If it has been five months since your last vaccination, please go out, receive the booster shot," he said.
"We have 40 vaccination centres across our state [and] 100 mobile centres as well."
On Thursday, NSW recorded 5715 new Covid infections in the past 24-hour reporting period, and Victoria announced 2005 more cases and 10 more deaths.
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