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NSW outbreak dampens Christmas spirit

With thousands in isolation after contracting COVID-19 and scores more unable to see loved ones thanks to cancelled flights and closed borders, the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ is looking grim in NSW.

Those still able to celebrate are unlikely to get a normal Christmas Day either, with the number of new infections continuing to skyrocket across the state.

Some 5612 new cases were reported on Friday, swamping contact tracers, overwhelming testing sites and affecting flight schedules as authorities reintroduce mask rules.

Dozens of Jetstar and Qantas domestic flights out of Sydney were cancelled on Christmas Eve as frontline staff deemed close contacts were forced to get tested and isolate as the virus spreads through the city.

The spiralling outbreak has prompted the government to reintroduce some restrictions that were only wound back on December 15.

Almost 30,000 people have been diagnosed with the virus in NSW in the days since.

Masks are again required in indoor settings, with hospitality venues to return to the one person per two-square metre rule and QR codes to be compulsory again from Monday.

While no restrictions will impact Christmas gatherings at homes on Saturday, those still able to celebrate are encouraged to take COVID-19 precautions where ever possible.

Revellers should undertake rapid antigen tests before gathering, should prioritise ventilation and should ask elderly visitors to sit outside on the verandah, NSW Health says.

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