Australia Covid news live update: Berejiklian faces backlash over abandoned press conferences; restrictions eased in parts of NSW

Good morning.

I’m Nino Bucci with your Covid news (and a side of non-Covid content) this Saturday.

It will be the second-last daily press conference of the pandemic in New South Wales, with premier Gladys Berejiklian announcing on Friday (along with a record 1,542 cases and nine deaths) that she would abandon the practice from Monday. Her decision was not well received.

Thousands of NSW residents in a handful of Covid-free regional areas have woken to their first day of freedom in four weeks.

Stay-at-home restrictions have lifted for much of NSW’s north-east and south-west, including in the regional centres of Coffs Harbour, Wagga Wagga and Albury.

Masks will be mandatory at indoor public venues, but hospitality venues, shops, sporting facilities and beauty services have all been cleared to reopen with restrictions. Up to to five people will be allowed in a home and up to 20 can gather outdoors.

Queensland will reinstate a border bubble with NSW on Monday. Late on Friday a Brisbane university worker, who is a relative of a Brisbane schoolgirl who has Covid-19, also tested positive for the virus.

Griffith University vice-chancellor Prof Carolyn Evans emailed staff telling them a staff member, who is a family relative of the 13-year-old Sunnybank girl who tested positive on Friday, also tested positive.

Authorities don’t yet know if there’s a link between the girl, her family member and a NSW truck driver who was also infectious in the community at nearby Mount Gravatt and Archerfield on Sunday and Monday.

Victoria is seeing case numbers climb as projected, with 324 cases in the state on Friday.

The vaccination rate is accelerating above forecasts, however, with Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar saying he expected the state would “smash” the original 23 September estimate by several days.

Most of regional Victoria except Greater Shepparton emerged from lockdown on Friday, with retail and hospitality allowed to reopen under strict rules.

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