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The NSW premier has warned the number of COVID-19 cases in the state will inevitably rise as restrictions on house visits are eased, even as a nursing home in western Sydney recorded another four deaths.
A maximum of two adults will from Friday be permitted in NSW to visit another household for social or care reasons with their dependent children.
The measure fulfils the state government’s promise to reassess restrictions at the end of each month.
Four more residents from the Newmarch House nursing home in Caddens have died after contracting coronavirus, Anglicare Sydney said on Tuesday evening.
The facility has now recorded 11 deaths while NSW’s overall toll has risen to 41, taking the national toll to 88.
The virus was introduced to the home by an employee who worked for six consecutive days while suffering very mild respiratory symptoms.
The news that two adults can visit another household from Friday comes after it was announced last week that students would resume limited face-to-face schooling from May 11.
A lift in NSW retail activity is also likely next month.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Tuesday admitted health authorities expect 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.
Ms Berejiklian said the government would not limit the nature of home visits because social interaction was good for mental health.
“When visiting, meeting in an outdoor environment such as home garden, backyard or verandah will help reduce the risk,” the premier said in a statement, adding “the two-person gathering limit still applies to public places”.
Physical distancing measures and hand washing remain crucial. Those aged over 70 should continue to stay at home whenever possible.
“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.
“The headspace we’re in (is) what can we lift? When is it a safe time to lift them? What can boost jobs? That’s a priority for us.”
The Liberal leader said anyone with even “the mildest of symptoms” should stay at home and arrange to be tested for COVID-19.
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.
NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay welcomed the easing of restrictions but called for greater consistency around school measures and playgrounds.
“Term two is meant to start tomorrow, but the government has failed to provide a consistent and clear plan,” the opposition leader said in a statement.
“Now it’s every school for themselves and no one knows what is going on.”
NSW recorded five new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday taking the total to 3009. Some 19 people are in intensive care.
Bondi Beach has reopened for swimming and surfing but the sand remains out of bounds given the area boasts the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Australia.
NSW Police have charged seven people and issued 15 virus-related infringement notices within the past 24 hours.