NSW Covid update: Gladys Berejiklian to abandon daily press conferences despite record new cases

The New South Wales premier will abandon daily press conferences from next week, announcing the decision on the day the state recorded a record-high figure of 1,542 new cases, as well as nine deaths.

The peak of cases across NSW is expected next week, and hospitalisations and intensive care admissions next month, but Gladys Berejiklian – under fierce questioning – has defended not fronting the media to answer questions.

“I will turn up when I need to but to expect the leader of the government indefinitely to do this every day means that I am not doing my job properly,” she said.

“I can assure the people of this state, and they can judge me on my record, whenever I need to speak directly to the public, I absolutely will.”

Defending herself against accusations of “going into hiding” by not giving daily updates in person and answering questions, she argued: “What we need to do is all of us have to start accepting that we need to live with Covid because Covid will be around for three or four years.”

Beyond the last daily press conference on Sunday, NSW Health will provide a “daily health update” and the premier, health minister or other minister “will present to the community on a needs basis”.

The decision to abandon daily press briefings has been widely condemned by journalists who have argued the press conferences – while imperfect – are a vital mechanism of accountability.

Under a roadmap out of the statewide Covid-19 lockdowns announced by Berejiklian on Thursday, a suite of restrictions will be eased when 70% of the state’s eligible population are fully vaccinated. These freedoms will only be restored for the fully vaccinated.

Berejiklian denied reports the state’s chief health officer, Kerry Chant, wanted to wait until NSW reached 85% coverage before reopening. The premier insisted Chant signed off on the plan, but conceded the government’s role was to consider other factors including the state’s economy, employment, education and the mental health impacts of continuing restrictions.

“What we need to do is always weigh up that health advice with public policy and I would never do anything where the health experts completely objected to anything or did not think it was safe,” Berejiklian told the Nine Network.

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“It is going to be challenging, but it’s a road all states will have to take.”

Vaccination rates had slowed in Australia’s most populous state, falling from above 1.5% of NSW’s population every day, to about 1% of the population, Berejiklian said.

Vaccination numbers peaked at the end of August, with more than 148,000 vaccines administered on the last day of that month. The numbers had fallen below 100,000 a day on some recent weekdays, lower again on weekends.

Some of that fall in vaccinations was the result of a current “lumpiness” in supply of vaccines in the state, the premier said, as well as the required delay between people’s first and second doses.


Where can I get vaccinated in Australia?


The majority of Australians aged 18 and over are now eligible for a Covid vaccination if they are willing to consider the AstraZeneca vaccine, and provided they do not have a history of specific health conditions.

In addition to the government’s official eligibility checker, which lists some clinics near your location which might have vaccination appointments available, there are a number of other helpful resources that can help you to find somewhere that has appointments open.

You can find our comprehensive guide to finding a vaccination appointment here.

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“But we still see people over 70 or over 50 who are not vaccinated,” Berejiklian said. “There is no reason why anybody should not come forward to be vaccinated so we want to make sure that people come forward as quickly as possible.”

Across the state, 1,542 new locally acquired cases were detected – no overseas cases were reported. There were 1,156 people in hospital, with 207 in intensive care, the vast majority of those unvaccinated, and 89 people were on ventilators.

Of the nine deaths: one was a woman in her 80s; two were men in their 70s; two were men in their 60s; two were people in their 50s, a man and a woman; one was a woman in her 40s; and one was a man in his 30s. All were reported to have underlying health conditions. Three were fully vaccinated, three had a single dose and three were unvaccinated.

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Photograph: Tim Robberts/Stone RF

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Some 76.4% of eligible people in NSW have had at least one dose of vaccine and 43.6% were fully vaccinated.

Queensland and NSW would reopen, from Monday, their ‘border bubble’ for communities in northern NSW and southern Queensland to be able to cross the border. The hard state border came to particular public attention over the Father’s Day weekend when separated families were forced to mark the occasion across a roadblock barrier.

People from communities close to the border will be able to cross for a number of essential reasons, including work that cannot be undertaken at home, school, essential shopping, health care (including vaccination appointments) or to care for someone who is vulnerable.

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