Deputy Premier John Barilaro sais there is "a lot of confidence" large areas of the state with zero Covid cases including the Riverina could come out of lockdown when the current orders expire on September 10.
An initial week-long lockdown for regional NSW was extended to September 10 last week and despite record-breaking case numbers statewide in recent days, Mr Barilaro said LGAs with no cases could emerge from lockdown at the end of next week with little risk.
"The way we will approach the regions will be, where there are no cases, and there are big footprints in regional and rural NSW where there are no cases, we will look at lifting restrictions..." he confirmed on Monday.
"[In] the northern part of the state and the Riverina as well, I think there is a lot of confidence you can open those large areas up and have minimal risk."
He said when it comes to make a decision on a September 10 reopen for the Riverina, the state won't take vaccination rates into consideration as it is too early for there to be widespread coverage.
"Vaccination rates won't be taken into account for what we do on September 10 because the rates will still be well below the 70 per cent mark at that time," he said.
"It was never meant to be a benchmark for opening up the regions so it won't be vaccinations, it will be case numbers, any threats across the region, and what's happening across the Victorian border, we will take that into account and that could play into [the decision]."
Meanwhile, the MLHD's Public Health Director Tracey Oakman said zero Covid cases in the district is unlikely to continue.
"I think it's just a matter of time before we get COVID in our region and local cases, so it really is really important that people maintain their vigilance," Ms Oakman said at a press conference on Monday. "If you are unwell get tested, QR code in everywhere you go please, it's such a valuable tool that we have for contacting people early - when they're at a venue and they may have been exposed, we can get them isolated straight away."
Mr Barilaro agreed that communities with no cases have to stay vigilant, pointing to sewage detection in Temora over the weekend as a timely reminder to keep following the regulations.
"Often where there are no cases there is complacency full stop around Covid - not just testing but social distancing and following the rules," Mr Barilaro said.
"Sewerage surveillance picked up fragments of the virus in Temora and that should be a message to the community... if you have any level of symptoms regardless of how minor they may be, come forward and get tested."
As to what areas can look forward to if the lockdown eases, Mr Barilaro said decisions are still pending but pre-lockdown rules that came into effect at the end of June are likely to return.
"My view is that in large parts of the state we should get back to pre-lockdown restrictions," he said.
"I know [NSW] Health will be hesitant, or cautious, so we may not look at community sports or large gatherings initially."
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