Home isolation for close contacts, hotel quarantine and social-distancing requirements on public transport will be dropped in NSW, while COVID-19 vaccine mandates for some employees could also be relaxed.
The changes announced by Premier Dominic Perrottet on Wednesday will come into effect from 6pm on Friday.
People who are household contacts of a positive case will no longer need to isolate at home for seven days, so long as they continue to test negative.
They should still work from home where possible and avoid high-risk settings such as hospitals and aged care homes.
NSW will move to end hotel quarantine and will remove the green dots on buses, trains and other public transport that indicate where to sit to maintain social distancing.
However, masks will still be required on public transport.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee had indicated it would be appropriate to drop some of the stricter restrictions once the current wave of infections had peaked.
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the state was over the peak “but the plateau is quite a flat line and the decline is quite slow”.
NSW recorded 15,414 new cases on Wednesday and 15 more deaths. Dr Chant warned that authorities still expected community transmission to remain high and she urged anyone with symptoms to stay home.
Society would have to co-exist with COVID-19 but that didn’t mean ignoring the virus, she said.
People should also get a flu vaccine because the approaching influenza season is expected to be more severe than the previous two years, when people were under restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
While vaccinations have played an important part in protecting people, Mr Perrottet said previous mandates that employees be vaccinated would be dropped in some cases, with a shift to an occupational health and safety approach.
“We will move to risk-based assessments for employees based on the circumstances they find themselves in.
“I expect various circumstances where vaccines will be required,” Mr Perrottet said.
The pandemic was not over but it was “a great day for our state” and the easing of restrictions was cause for reflection on the success of the state in dealing with COVID, the premier said.
“It has been a bloody tough two years for the people of NSW.”
The government would continue to monitor the situation and restrictions could return if circumstances changed, Mr Perrottet said.
There are 1639 people with the virus in hospital and 72 in ICU.