A handful of regions across NSW are in their last day of lockdown, with dining out, going to the gym, weddings and household gathering soon back on the agenda.
People living in parts of the mid-north coast and the north coast will emerge from lockdown, as will the Riverina and Murrumbidgee areas, including Wagga Wagga and Albury.
With restrictions easing along much of the state’s border with Queensland, the Sunshine State’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, announced she too will relax some travel rules.
The border between the two states has been closed since July 23, creating difficulties for people who live in border communities.
Queensland will reinstate border bubble arrangements from 1am on Monday.
Students and essential workers will be able to travel from 12 regional NSW local government areas where restrictions have eased, and vice versa.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro welcomed news the arrangements would revert to their previous settings after seven weeks of havoc.
“This will make a difference for those communities who have done it hard,” he told reporters on Friday.
“We know how seamless and invisible that border is, but unfortunately communities do get impacted at times when borders are closed.”
However, there was little good news for the rest of the state’s regions.
Dozens of cases were recorded and two people died – a woman in her 50s from the Central Coast and a man in his 30s from the Nepean Blue Mountains area.
Some 26 new cases were recorded on the Central Coast, and cases in the Illawarra also remained stubbornly high at 38.
Another 88 were diagnosed in the Nepean Blue Mountains, 13 in the Hunter New England, and three in southern NSW.
Outbreaks in western NSW also continue to climb, with 28 new cases in the western local health district and five in Wilcannia in the far west.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however, with restrictions due to be eased once the state reaches 70 per cent vaccination coverage, expected in mid-October.
Health authorities in western NSW want the region to beat all others in Australia to that milestone, setting a challenge for community members to roll up their sleeves.