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Jumping the back fence: NSW, Victoria ditch hot-spots, open borders

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Victoria has recorded 1841 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths, as the state opens its borders to fully vaccinated people from Sydney without quarantine on arrival.

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Relaxed requirements now apply to fully vaccinated travellers who have been in red or orange zones and the border bubble has been reinstated for Broken Hill and Shepparton.

From midnight Victoria scrapped red zones that applied to Greater Sydney areas so anyone who has been in Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast, Shellharbour and Wollongong can now enter Victoria on an orange zone permit, without any quarantine or testing.

Anyone who isn’t vaccinated requires a permit, must isolate, get tested within 72 hours and stay isolated until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result.

The remainder of regional NSW is now classified as green zones and vaccinated people from there will simply require a permit to enter Victoria.

NSW has reported 283 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths as the state prepares to resume non-urgent elective surgery next week.

In the 24-hour reporting period to 8pm on Tuesday, 92.3 per cent of people 16 and older have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 81.6 per cent of people are fully vaccinated.

People coming into NSW from Victoria have to stay-at-home for 14 days but can leave home for essentials like food, exercise, medical care or work or study if they can’t do that at home.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said passing 92 per cent was a “great achievement” but she wants to see the rates increase.

“I want to get 95 per cent or even above,” Dr Chant said on Tuesday.

The number of people hospitalised with COVID-19 has dropped, with 589 in hospital including 128 in intensive care and 69 on ventilators.

The fall in the number of people in hospital and in intensive care was also a relief for staff who have been working in a system under stress for months.

“But it will not mean they have much of a breather – we also have business as usual,” Dr Chant said.

NSW recorded 273 locally acquired virus cases and four more deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday.

Less than two weeks after the first easing of restrictions, Dr Chant warned an expected rise in case numbers was yet to come.

“Let’s try to make sure that our ICUs have as few as possible people with COVID in them, as we open up over this Christmas-New Year period,” she said.

There have been 479 COVID-19 related deaths in NSW since the latest outbreak began on June 16, and 535 in total since the start of the global pandemic.

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