Fully vaccinated people in NSW have begun enjoying more freedoms as restrictions are wound back and the prospect of travelling interstate before Christmas is on the cards.
Premier Dominic Perrottet says he has reached out to Victorian counterpart Dan Andrews about easing border rules.
Queensland has laid out a plan to resume interstate travel by the end of November when vaccination rates in the Sunshine State improve - albeit with strict conditions.
Fully vaccinated people in NSW will be able to travel to Queensland without quarantining just in time for Christmas - from December 17 - if they test negative to COVID-19.
Daily coronavirus infections in NSW dipped to 265 in the 24-hours until 8pm on Sunday - but concern is growing over an escalating outbreak in the Hunter New England region, which accounted for almost a quarter of the state's daily cases.
Five people died including an unvaccinated woman in her 30s from Cessnock at John Hunter Hospital.
The premier welcomed the lower case numbers and the easing of a swathe of restrictions as more than 148,000 students in kindergarten, year one and 12 returned to school.
However, he cautioned there would inevitably be a resurgence of cases and more hospitalisations as restrictions eased.
"As mobility increases across the state, case numbers will increase," Mr Perrottet said on Monday.
"This is not over. There's a long journey to go."
After announcing last week the scrapping of hotel quarantine for fully vaccinated international arrivals from next month, the premier said NSW was "leading the nation out of the pandemic".
"We are well positioned to help all Australians around the world come home and we want to get tourism back," he said.
More than 80 per cent of people over 16 are fully vaccinated, which triggered a second-stage easing of restrictions on Monday.
At least one dose of the vaccine has been given to 92 per cent of adults.
The premier, who revealed his wife Helen was expecting their seventh child, was one of thousands of parents who took their children to school for the first time in more than four months.
Mr Perrottet said while case numbers in Victoria remained high he was pleased the state was determined to open up.
From Wednesday, fully vaccinated people travelling from NSW red zones can go to Victoria without quarantining after a negative COVID-19 test but must isolate and get tested again within 72 hours of their arrival.
People entering NSW from Victoria are still required to complete an entry declaration form and quarantine at home for 14 days.
The second stage of the NSW roadmap out of lockdown means outdoor gatherings of up to 50 fully vaccinated people are now permitted and up to 20 visitors are allowed in a home, provided everyone over 16 is vaccinated.
Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral celebrated its first mass on Monday and the premier said a tribute to frontline workers and those who have been vaccinated will be projected onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House on Monday night.
People can stand up while drinking and dance in most hospitality venues, but not yet in nightclubs, which are allowed to reopen so long as people sit down while they drink.
There is no limit on guests at weddings and funerals and the five-person cap at hairdressers and beauticians is also gone.
Vaccinated office workers are no longer required to wear masks at work, but masks are still required in other indoor areas such as on public transport or in a shop.
There are 606 COVID-19 cases in NSW hospitals, with 132 people in intensive care and 71 on ventilators.
There have been 475 COVID-related deaths in NSW since June 16, and 531 since the start of the pandemic.
Australian Associated Press
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