NSW case numbers continue to fall but a new problem is emerging as the state eases lockdown restrictions.
New Covid cases have declined again in NSW but a looming labour shortage amid a post-lockdown trading has Premier Dominic Perrottet urging businesses to “hang in there”.
There were 332 new cases reported in NSW on Saturday morning, down from 345 the day before. NSW Health reported two deaths in the latest figures, which cover the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
The cases came from more than 64,000 tests, with the state’s hospitalisation rate also decreasing.
There are now 469 Covid patients in hospital in NSW, with 123 in intensive care.
The update comes as Sydneysiders cap their second week of freedom, with lockdowns lifted on October 11.
But another problem is now hurting businesses, with Mr Perrottet telling journalists there was a dire shortage of hospitality and agricultural workers to handle a surge in trade.
“We know, particularly with reductions in immigration, reductions in skilled labour, international students not returning at this stage, it‘s made it incredibly difficult for many industries to get the workers that they need,” Mr Perrottet said.
“The feedback I‘ve received over the last week is trade’s up 200 per cent and staff down 50 per cent. That is a real challenge facing the hospitality sector in New South Wales. And we’ll continue the discussions with the federal government.”
Mr Perrottet said the state had been in discussion with Federal government again over restrictions on working hours.
“We’ll look towards potentially making some changes there again,” he said.
“But the first focus for us, is to get people back into work, to get businesses open. So it is a good challenge to have. It’s a better challenge than having high unemployment and not having demand in businesses right across the state.
“Hang in there, we are opening up.”
Saturday’s update follows news on Friday that Qantas plans to start several commercial routes earlier than originally scheduled, with many kicking off in December – including flights to the Indian capital for the first time in a year.
NSW restrictions will continue to ease over the coming weeks. From 1 November there will be no cap for bookings for hospitality venues.
Travel between Greater Sydney and regional NSW will also be allowed, while fully-vaccinated overseas arrivals will no longer need to quarantine.
Meanwhile, South Australia has changed its border rules with NSW, with restriction-free transit travel permitted through Sydney Airport.
The NSW Cross Border Corridor has also been reinstated, meaning anyone who hasn’t left the corridor or associated with someone outside the corridor within the past 14 days can travel anywhere in SA.