National News

No new NSW cases, open borders await

Border restrictions imposed on Greater Sydney residents by Queensland, South Australia and Victoria are being wound back as NSW records an 11th consecutive day without a local COVID-19 case.

NSW recorded zero new local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday and three cases in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned that the vaccine rollout in coming months will not be simple.

"I do want to manage expectations and say I can't wait to get the vaccine to myself when it's my turn ... but it will be a journey which will be a logistical exercise and quite complex," Ms Berejiklian told ABC radio on Thursday afternoon.

The premier said having a "substantial proportion" of the population vaccinated would potentially lead to further easing of restrictions.

Meanwhile, authorities say 12 people who quarantined at the New Zealand hotel where authorities believe the South African strain of coronavirus was transmitted have flown into Sydney.

Seven remain in the state.

Federal Acting Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd says the 12 people flew into NSW before travel from New Zealand was suspended.

Two went on to Queensland and three went to Hong Kong.

Health authorities are making sure they are all tested.

Kiwi health authorities believe three local cases detected this week were transmitted at the one quarantine facility, Pullman Hotel in Auckland. They all have the South African variant, which is more transmissible.

The development comes after the Queensland government on Thursday agreed to allow access to all Greater Sydney residents from Monday.

South Australia will also from Sunday reverse its quarantine orders on arrivals from Greater Sydney. However travellers will need to get tested on arrival and self-isolate until a negative result is received.

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews on Thursday also flagged an easing of border restrictions for Greater Sydney, with an announcement to come on Friday.

Most Greater Sydney residents can enter the ACT without quarantining, while Western Australia stipulates that everyone arriving from NSW must self-isolate for 14 days and get tested.

In Tasmania, residents of and visitors to 10 Greater Sydney council areas are still obliged to quarantine upon arrival.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian welcomed the full reopening of the NSW-Queensland border, labelling the change "fantastic".

"I hope that this brings a lot of joy and relief to people and that people are reunited," Ms Berejiklian told 2GB radio.

Queensland closed its border to 35 local government areas in Sydney, Wollongong and the Blue Mountains on December 20 amid a COVID-19 outbreak, throwing Christmas family reunions into disarray.

Ms Berejiklian noted NSW had not had a hotspot for some time and "even when we do, I don't think the whole state needs to suffer".

Virgin Australia applauded the reopening of the Queensland border and pledged to expand capacity on routes between Sydney and the Sunshine State.

"The announcement provides a boost of confidence for thousands of our people who've been looking forward to returning to work, as well as for travellers who want to do business, reconnect with loved ones, family and friends," Virgin said in a statement.

From Friday, Greater Sydney will ease restrictions on mask wearing as well as the number of visitors allowed in homes and at other gatherings and functions.

NSW Health says coronavirus testing rates remain too low, with just 7809 in the latest 24-hour reporting period.

"High rates of testing are an important tool in tracking the spread of the virus ... it's crucial that people retain their vigilance," Dr Jeremy McAnulty said.

© AAP 2021