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Aussies won't be locked down for Christmas

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Most Australians won't be locked down over Christmas after the NSW government eased coronavirus restrictions in Sydney.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says Sydneysiders will be allowed to host limited visitors over Christmas, after just eight new locally-acquired cases were reported in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday.

The NSW changes mean that people in every state and territory - who aren't in quarantine or isolation - can gather with friends or family over the festive break.

"They're modest tweaks and modest changes to account for the fact that everybody has had a very difficult year and some people's stress levels and mental health capacity is already at breaking point," Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Wednesday.

Restrictions for regional NSW will remain unchanged, while up to 10 people and unlimited children aged under 12 will be allowed to gather on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day across Greater Sydney.

Northern beaches residents north of the Narrabeen Bridge can host five people from the local area, while those in the south will be able to host 10 visitors from anywhere.

Seven of the cases reported on Wednesday were linked to the northern beaches cluster, but an eighth is a contact of an infected quarantine nurse.

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said genomic testing has linked those cases with the cluster, but authorities are still trying to find the person who spread the virus to the pair.

She also warned that a Qantas staff member had flown into Darwin from overseas and then taken a domestic flight to Sydney while infected last Friday.

Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid welcomed the cautious approach, but said going hard and early on restrictions is the best way to tackle outbreaks.

He said the NSW government should consider cancelling New Year's Eve fireworks to avoid crowds gathering.

"We all need to be extra vigilant during this holiday period to the stop the spread of COVID-19, especially as at this time of year when people travel, attend events, and spend time in close proximity with family and friends," Dr Khorshid said in a statement.

Victoria reported no new cases after a 15-year-old girl contracted the virus in Sydney before driving home to Melbourne with her mother.

Four other family members have tested negative to the virus and are isolating together at their home.

With no other cases of community transmission in the rest of the country, Australians are set to celebrate a relatively normal Christmas.

Up to 30 people can gather in Victoria, while 50 people are allowed to get together in Queensland, South Australia and the ACT provided they keep a 1.5 metre distance.

Tasmanians and people in the NT can have up 100 people around for Christmas, while in Western Australia there is no limit.

However, every state and territory is keeping their borders closed to Greater Sydney, with WA shut to all of NSW due to the outbreak.

Ms Berejiklian's criticism of state leaders' decisions also means there's little hope of a Christmas truce about the borders.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the border closures were based on health advice about the Sydney outbreak, which the NSW government was responsible for.

"If there hadn't been the cluster outbreak in the northern beaches, well ... everybody would have been seeing their family and friends over this Christmas-New Year period," she told reporters.

"But I think it's a bit rich for NSW to start blaming Queensland and Victoria and whichever other state and territory she (she) wants to blame.

"This has happened in NSW, it has happened in the northern beaches, and we wish them all the very best, but we do not want our lifestyle compromised."

Sydneysiders who do decide to travel interstate must undergo mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine on arrival.

Some have decided to do that, and with many people still returning from abroad, hundreds of Australians will spend Christmas in hotel quarantine or self-isolation around the country.

There are also tens of thousands of Australians who still remain stuck overseas, nine months after the pandemic began.

© AAP 2020

By Mirelle/

Tags: coronavirus