Western Sydney welcomes end to curfews
Leaders from western and southwest Sydney have welcomed the NSW government's decision to end curfews in COVID-19 hotspot areas.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Wednesday said the call had been made possible by the state crossing the 80 per cent first-dose vaccination threshold.
It's the only restriction she plans to ease for the hotspot suburbs in the city's west and southwest for now, though.
"We need everybody to hold the line," she told reporters.
"We've seen a stabilisation in the last few days and we don't want to see that trend go the wrong way."
The decision to ditch the 9pm curfew came the day after the premier met with mayors of the 12 affected local government areas - though she did not warn them it was coming.
They thanked her for the respite.
Penrith Mayor Karen McKeown said she'd directly appealed to the premier to ease the curfew.
But she called for Ms Berejiklian to go a step further and reassess whether suburbs with low case numbers needed to be subject to heightened restrictions.
Similarly, Burwood's mayor John Faker said the lifting of the curfew was welcome relief, but it was "debatable" whether Burwood should even be on the hotspot list at all.
"The curfew was never about health, it was always an enforcement tool," Mr Faker said.
He said the premier's failure to warn the mayors the decision was coming demonstrated a "distaste (for) transparency and accountability throughout this whole crisis".
Liverpool mayor Wendy Waller said the government's decision showed it was listening but it had to do more to "stem the growing divide between the southwest and west and other parts of Sydney".
The government acknowledged when implementing the curfew that it would have minimal effect on COVID-19 transmission and was more useful as a tool for policing lockdown compliance.
The future of locked-down southwest and western Sydney was debated on Wednesday during a two-hour economic recovery summit hosted by the NSW opposition.
The summit heard that confusion and fear over vaccination rules and exposure risks are plaguing NSW businesses, who want more clarity.
Businesses also said they needed help designing and adhering to new COVID safe plans given the Delta strain's virulence.
The state reported 1259 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday.
The 12 deaths included a woman in her 30s, two people in their 50s, three people in their 60s, three people in their 70s, two people in their 80s and a man in his 90s.
It takes the death toll for the current outbreak to 198.
Ms Berejiklian made clear the government would hold firm and ban the unvaccinated from restored freedoms at 70 per cent.
"At 70 per cent we've been clear and extremely black and white ... it will be a health order and the law that if you're not vaccinated, you can't attend venues on the road map," she told reporters.
"We are going through compliance issues now (but) there is an onus on you as an individual to be vaccinated and it will depend on the size of the business.
"If you're not vaccinated, you can't go to a restaurant, to a cafe."
There are 1241 COVID-19 patients in NSW hospitals, with 234 in intensive care and 108 on ventilators.
Meanwhile, the Lismore area in the state's north is on high alert after a positive case was found in the area.
The person attended a school in Goonellabah on Monday, authorities say.
The northern rivers region has been released from lockdown since Friday.
© AAP 2021