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First flights from NZ arrive in Sydney as coronavirus outbreak confirmed at childcare centre

ABC News logo ABC News 16/10/2020 By Emma Elsworthy

The first of three flights has touched down at Sydney Airport, carrying international passengers who, for the first time in seven months, will not need to quarantine upon arrival.

Just one case of coronavirus was recorded on Friday as a result of local transmission, while four others were recorded in mandatory hotel quarantine.

Friday marks the first time since March 29 that international travellers will not be subjected to the 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine scheme.

Two other flights from New Zealand are set to arrive in Sydney shortly, and provided passengers have been in their country of origin for the past two weeks, they will be free to enter the community.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard described it as a "great day", but pointed out New Zealanders arriving on Friday would need to prove they are symptom-free and satisfy other health requirements.

Mr Hazzard said passengers arriving from New Zealand would be kept separate from other arrivals in the airport, all of whom must go straight into a two-week hotel stint.

"There will be different channels and ways in of those New Zealand travellers from the other travellers, and also keeping them separate from people coming in from Victoria from the time being," he said.

There will be a total of 16 flights between the two countries each week, with Jetstar and Qantas joining Air New Zealand and Qatar Airways in advertising the trans-Tasman flights.

One man boarding the flight in Auckland told reporters he would be reuniting with his wife and child in Sydney after four months apart.

At Sydney Airport there were tears and hugs as loved ones reunited, with as many as 90 per cent of passengers on the Air New Zealand flight flying one way.

Friday's only confirmed locally acquired case was a household contact of a person within the Lakemba GP cluster, which has grown to 16.

But NSW Health's Kerry Chant said a child and a staff member at Great Beginnings childcare centre at Oran Park had tested positive overnight and would be included in tomorrow's numbers.

NSW Health later upgraded health advice for the centre for all staff and all children who attended the centre after new cases of COVID-19 linked to the centre between October 2 and 13, inclusive, are now considered close contacts.

Previously only staff and children in a specific part of the centre were considered close contacts and are advised to get tested immediately and self-isolate for a full 14 days from when they last attended.

The two cases come after Tuesday's announcement that an infectious person visited the childcare centre on October 1, 2, 8, and 9.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the Government wanted to announce an easing of more social-distancing restrictions next week.

"They would depend on how the case numbers go in the next few days," she said.

But she affirmed that the 4-square-metre rule had been reduced by half for outdoor dining and events as of Friday, allowing people to mingle within 2 square metres.

"The key thing is to make sure that you are only allowed to go outdoors within 2 square metres if you have a QR code," Ms Berejiklian said.

She also said eased restrictions around outdoor music performances came into effect Friday, meaning up to 500 people can attend outdoor seated music performances, subject to social distancing.

Ms Berejiklian said she appreciated the change, which would increase patronage from the previous limit of 20 people, would come as a "huge relief" for the arts community.

"I know so many people who are performers have suffered for months and months, some have not worked for seven months, in fact," she said.

There were 16,391 coronavirus swabs collected to 8:00pm last night, up slightly from 15,802 on Wednesday.

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