NSW has recorded no new cases of COVID-19 for the first time in almost three weeks as the easing of restrictions around the state nears.
However health authorities warn it is likely people may have the virus and not be aware they have it.
“While there have been no cases recorded in the past 24 hours, the virus is likely circulating among people in the community with mild symptoms. As such, the risk of outbreaks and a resurgence of cases remains,” an update from NSW Health read.
Zero cases were recorded from 9500 tests in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday, NSW Health said in a statement, with one person currently in intensive care.
Just 11 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in NSW in the past 11 days – seven from overseas travellers and four with an unknown local source.
The state has recorded 3092 coronavirus cases to date.
NSW will from Monday ease restrictions on religious services, weddings and funerals alongside pub and restaurant patronage.
“The virus is likely circulating among people in the community with mild symptoms,” NSW Health’s Dr Jeremy McAnulty said on Saturday.
“The risk of outbreaks and a resurgence of cases remains real.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Friday that from June 1, up to 20 people can attend weddings, 50 at funerals and 50 at places of worship.
However strict social distancing guidelines would continue to apply.
“It is crucial that worshippers remember to follow health advice. This is particularly important for people with co-morbidities aged over 50 and people aged over 70,” Ms Berejiklian said in a statement.
The government had been wary about adjusting the restrictions on places of worship after observing COVID-19 outbreaks in churches and choirs overseas.
But state religious leaders pushed for the relaxation on service attendance after the government last week announced up to 50 people would be permitted to dine in restaurants, pubs and cafes from June 1.
Anthony Fisher, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, on Friday said in a statement his church would abide by government health regulations.
The archbishop of the Anglican Archdiocese of Sydney also said Anglican churches were well prepared to return to services of 50 people.
Hand sanitisers will be available at each entrance, churches will be thoroughly cleaned and designated ushers will record attendees’ contact details.
“We realise that this is not the normality we enjoyed in 2019. We are grateful for the relief, joy and comfort that many parishioners will feel in meeting again in public Christian worship,” Archbishop Glenn Davies said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Ms Berejiklian’s government has a fight on its hands to get a proposed 12-month public sector pay freeze through Parliament, with Upper House crossbench MPs vowing to block the measure.
Ms Berejiklian on Thursday raised the possibility of job losses amid the COVID-19 pandemic unless the proposed freeze was endorsed on Macquarie Street.
The freeze is expected to save $3 billion, to be reinvested in public projects