Premier announces easing of restrictions in NSW for schools, weddings and community sport

Premier announces easing of restrictions in NSW for schools, weddings and community sport

Bridal parties will be allowed to dance at weddings, singing and music will return to schools and more parents will get to watch their kids play sport under an easing of restrictions announced today.

Sydney's New Years Eve fireworks display will also go ahead under the new guidelines announced by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Thursday.

The news came as just one case of COVID-19 was confirmed across the state in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases in NSW to 4024.

The case was that of a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

However Ms Berejiklian said there had been a further case confirmed since 8pm last night - a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions who is in Campbelltown Hospital's ICU.

The source of the man's infection is not known, however the two people he lives with in supported accommodation are undergoing testing - as well as staff who have been in close contact during the infectious period.

However Ms Berejiklian said the continued lower number of cases in the state had led to an easing in restrictions, including on New Year's Eve.

She said the Sydney Harbour event would be consistent with public health orders, and would be vastly different to previous years.

"We want the fireworks display on NYE in Sydney to be a symbol of hope to our nation and the world that 2021 will be a different year to 2020," she said.

Ms Berejiklian also announced there would be an easing of restrictions for weddings - to enable bridal parties of up to 20 to be on the dance floor.

"It is still a high risk environment and we ask both the patrons and also the function organiser to make sure the bridal party up to 20 is clearly identified ... it has to be the same up to 20 group that is on the dance floor," she said.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard also announced changes to limitations at community sport, which he said had been of great concern to parents.

"They can have much more freedom in coming to see their children playing sport - but there still has to be commonsense provided," he said.

"If you're in a facility that is closed in or where there's not a lot of room, that 1.5 metres between you and the next group of people is still critical to keeping this virus under control.

"We are living with the virus, we haven't beaten the virus."

Mr Hazzard said there would be major new opportunities for music - including in schools - with people being able to sing in groups of five.

However he added that social distancing would still apply, as "what comes out of our mouth when we talk or sing can be extremely dangerous as it carries the virus".

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell announced major changes for schools from term four.

There'll be a return to school sport, as well as the opening up of inter-school and zone competitions.

Playing wind instruments, singing and chanting will be permitted with strict restrictions.

"We will be able to have singing and choirs back in our school communities, of up to to five students participating in those choirs, again with some COVID restrictions," she said.

"The same goes for music ensembles, we'll be able to have unlimited numbers of students taking part as long as they adhere to social distancing."

Year 6 formals and celebrations can take place, she said, with school assemblies and presentation days expected to proceed at the end of term four.

The Community Languages Schools Program will also be able to restart face-to-face learning.

Meantime parents would be welcomed back to schools, if there to help with activities like reading groups or kitchen garden programs.

School camps and excursions can progress - as well as Kindergarten and Year 7 orientations - from the beginning of term four.

Acting Minister for Sport Geoff Lee said, from this weekend, more than one parent may now attend community sporting activities if practising social distancing with others not in the same household.

"Both parents can watch their kids score a try, kick a goal," he said.

"This is great news .. we know the finals start this weekend."

With school holidays set to begin, NSW Health confirmed there was no restriction on school holiday travel within the state for NSW residents.

NSW Health said there were 17,392 tests reported in the 24-hour reporting period, compared with 16,759 in the previous 24 hours.

However testing has declined in recent weeks and NSW Health is appealing to the community to come forward for testing if they had a runny nose or scratchy throat, cough, fever or other symptoms that could be COVID-19.

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This story Premier announces easing of restrictions in NSW for schools, weddings and community sport first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.

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