Australia

Gladys Berejiklian announces eased gathering restrictions for NSW from Friday

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will ease coronavirus restrictions from Friday. Source: AAP

A seventh resident of the Newmarch House nursing home in western Sydney has died of coronavirus, while house visits of two people will be permitted in NSW.

The NSW premier has warned the number of COVID-19 cases in the state will inevitably rise as restrictions on house visits ease from the end of the week.

A maximum of two adults will from Friday be permitted in NSW to visit another household for social or care reasons, with children permitted to come along.

The measure fulfils the state government's earlier promise to reassess restrictions at the end of each month. Plans for students to resume face-to-face schooling from May 11 have already been announced, while an uptick in NSW retail activity is also expected.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Tuesday admitted health authorities expected the changes to increase the number of new COVID-19 cases but said hospitals had bolstered their capacity throughout April and sourced extra protective gear.

Those aged over 70 should continue to remain at home as much as possible.

Ms Berejiklian nevertheless said the government would not seek to limit the nature of visits and that social interaction was good for mental health.

Physical distancing measures and hand washing remain crucial.

"I anticipate that in May, it won't just be a handful of new cases we get every day because when you've got this increase in activity, unfortunately you will see a rise in the number of cases," Ms Berejiklian told reporters.

"That's why we took time in April whilst we had those restrictions to beef up health supplies, capacity in hospitals to deal with extra cases, but also to learn from the data we've had.

"That's definitely the headspace we're in - what can we lift? When is it a safe time to lift them? What can boost jobs? That's a priority for us."

A worker leaves the Anglicare Newmarch House in Western Sydney.
A worker leaves the Anglicare Newmarch House in Western Sydney.
AAP

Ms Berejiklian added that return-to-school measures could be accelerated if the first two weeks of face-to-face learning from May 11 go smoothly.

A seventh person at the Newmarch House aged care facility in Sydney's west, meanwhile, has died after contracting coronavirus, taking the NSW death toll to 37.

Operator Anglicare said the 89-year-old female resident died on Monday night.

"This coronavirus pandemic has been unprecedented in terms of its scale and impact across the world. But more importantly we know what a devastating effect it is having on older people," Anglicare chief executive Grant Millard said in a statement.

COVID-19 was introduced to the Caddens facility by an aged care worker who worked for six consecutive days while suffering very mild respiratory symptoms.

Some 54 residents and staff members at Newmarch House have COVID-19.

NSW recorded five new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, taking the state total to 3009. Some 19 people are in intensive care.

Meanwhile, Bondi Beach has reopened for swimming and surfing but the sand will remain closed given the area boasts the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Australia.

Waverley Council mayor Paula Masselos said the waters at Bondi, Bronte and Tamarama beaches would reopen on Tuesday "for the sole purpose of exercising".

People will be able to surf or swim between 7am and 5pm on weekdays, with access to the water via designated entry and exit points.

The mayor said the "swim and go" and "surf and go" measures were strictly for Waverley residents and people shouldn't drive to the beaches from further afield.

All of Randwick City Council's beaches will again reopen from Tuesday without any time restrictions while those in Dee Why, Freshwater and Manly, under the Northern Beaches Council, remain closed.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

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