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NSW cases drop as areas, borders open

NSW recorded its lowest number of locally acquired cases in more than three months as restrictions on regional and international travel were lifted.

Qantas flight QF1 left Sydney on Monday night bound for London via Darwin carrying outbound vaccinated Australians.

Flights also arrived at Sydney International Airport from the US, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Hong Kong, Fiji and Dubai on the first day of quarantine-free travel for vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families.

Singaporean tourists will be allowed back to Australia as part of a travel bubble from November 21.

Australian Tourism Export Council managing director Peter Shelley said the travel arrangements with Singapore are “the first step in getting our tourism businesses back to providing amazing experiences for international visitors”.

Restrictions on travel from Greater Sydney to regional areas were also lifted on Monday, and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet was among those heading to the regions.

He visited Dubbo’s Western Plains Zoo to deliver a message to the state’s residents thinking of planning their summer holidays.

“Don’t go interstate – come out to regional NSW and enjoy the best the state has to offer,” Mr Perrottet said.

He said regional travel’s effect on the state’s confidence is “really going to drive our economy”.

The resumption of regional travel was delayed for two weeks due to concerns over lower vaccination rates compared to Greater Sydney.

Deputy Premier Paul Toole said 82 per cent of regional NSW now being fully vaccinated was an “exceptional result”.

NSW can be proud of its high vaccination rate and “there’s no reason we can’t reach 95 per cent to help ensure we get on top of this pandemic”, Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.

The lifting of restrictions also prompted a warning from emergency services for motorists to take care after a 76-year-old man died when a truck and car collided in the Blue Mountains.

Fire and Rescue NSW also issued a warning for people heading to the regions for caravan and camping holidays to practise good fire safety and awareness as bushfire season approaches.

Restrictions will begin lifting for unvaccinated people next month.

On Monday, NSW recorded its lowest daily total of locally acquired cases since July, with 135 cases along with four deaths.

A man in his 70s and a 101-year-old woman who caught the virus at Albury’s Mercy Place aged care home, and a man in his 60s who contracted the virus at Parklea jail, were among the deaths.

Supermarket chain Woolworths has begun sending out pre-ordered at-home rapid antigen testing kits ahead of them going on sale in stores on Wednesday.

Albury, on the border with Victoria, and Redfern in inner Sydney have displayed the highest demand for the testing kits.

Customers are limited to 10 self-test kits, which sell in packs of two and five for $30 and $50.

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