NSW has recorded a dramatic drop in Covid cases as fully-vaccinated residents endure their final day of a gruelling 15-week lockdown.
There were 477 new local infections recorded on Sunday - more than 100 fewer than Saturday’s 580 cases.
Daily cases had stubbornly lingered around the 600-mark in the previous six days.
There were also six deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday - all men were unvaccinated and aged in their 50s, 60s or 70s.
It follows a major milestone in NSW's vaccine rollout, with first dose coverage tipping over 90 per cent.
On the eve of “freedom day”, there were 72.75 per cent of eligible residents fully jabbed.
The 70 per cent double-dose target was surpassed earlier last week, paving the way for stay-at-home orders to be wound back from for the state’s fully vaccination population from Monday.
When asked if Sunday would be the state’s last ever day in lockdown, the Premier Dominic Perrottet told reporters: “That’s certainly the intention of this government.”
Despite Sunday's fall in infections, Mr Perrottet warned NSW must brace for a surge in cases over the coming weeks.
"We expect cases to increase as we open up," he admitted.
"We will not get everything right, we did not get it right last year, this is a pandemic and there is uncertainty and you have to make the best decisions on the best advice you have."
New freedoms from Monday
Greater Sydney was plunged into lockdown on June 25 as the Delta strain spread rapidly - more than 15 weeks ago.
The Premier said it's been a difficult time but fully-vaccinated residents have earned the opportunity to open up.
"It's been a hundred days of blood, sweat, no beers but we've got it back in action tomorrow," he said.
"It's an exciting day for our state but I want to reiterate that you need to do this in a safe way, please treat everybody with respect, with kindness and that will be key as we move through this period of time."
Gyms, cafes, restaurants, pools, shops, hairdressers and beauticians will reopen from Monday and people will be allowed to venture more than five kilometres from their home.
Indoor and outdoor gatherings will also be permitted, with caps increased earlier this week to 10 and 30 people respectively.
Double-vaccinated residents have nevertheless been encouraged to take care when enjoying restored freedoms.
NSW residents who have received two Covid vaccine doses will need to show proof of vaccination through the Medicare app.
Vaccination app pilot announced
The NSW Government has confirmed the vaccination certificate function of the Service NSW app will be rolled out in Tamworth, Port Macquarie, Wagga Wagga and Lismore first as part of a pilot program.
The 500-person pilot will start on Monday - a week later than planned and on the same day NSW's lockdown winds down.
“Customers will have the convenience of checking in to a venue and showing proof of vaccination status on the one app. This is NSW leading the way with a pilot in the regions and helping to make life easier for our communities in the roadmap out of Covid," Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said.
But the Opposition argues the government's delays have failed to give the business community certainty.
"The vaccine app should be ready to be rolled out on Monday, not only just entering its trial phase," Shadow Minister for Customer Service and Digital Yasmin Catley MP said.
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