Aged care residents in NSW will be able to have as many Christmas visitors as they want as regulations imposed to stop the spread of COVID-19 into the facilities are eased.
The two visitor rule will be lifted on Tuesday, NSW Health’s Director of Aged Care Stefanie Williams said on Monday.
There will now be no limit on the number of people allowed to visit each resident.
Performers like choirs and musicians will also be able to visit for the first time since March, so all the festive traditions of carols and Christmas concerts can also take place in a COVID-safe way.
The news came as NSW hit 10 consecutive days without a locally acquired COVID-19 case.
“The risk of transmission in the community is now low enough to facilitate the easing of restrictions for aged care, just as the NSW Government has eased restrictions across many other areas,” Ms Williams said.
“Social connections are important to all of us, but particularly to residents in aged care. We are very pleased to enable residents to spend time with more of their loved ones this festive season, and to provide this certainty for families as they finalise their plans,” she said in a statement.
The changes were announced as NSW public health orders forcing employers to consider work-from-home arrangements for staff are wound back.
Employers are now able to recall staff to NSW offices if they see fit, which Treasurer Dominic Perrottet hopes will spur productivity increases.
“What I think we’ll see over this time is a combination of people working from home, returning to the city, doing both,” Mr Perrottet told reporters.
“If that increases productivity then that’s a great thing.
“We want to have as much culture and as much life, particularly over the weekends as well, to bring people back to town.”
NSW Health announced in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday there were three cases found in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
Some 6173 tests were recorded in the 24-hour period, while NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty said one COVID-19 patient was in intensive care.
He encouraged NSW residents to seek testing with even mild symptoms.
“With restrictions eased, borders having reopened and Christmas less than two weeks away, it is important we remain vigilant,” Dr McAnulty said.
“Don’t wait to see if your runny nose or sore throat goes away.”
NSW Health on Sunday said orders barring entry to NSW to those associated with SA’s Parafield cluster had been lifted. The state is now open to all people in Australia and New Zealand.