Christmas will again be significantly impacted by Covid-19 as the threat of the Omicron strain heaps further pressure on governments trying to minimise the burden on families during the festive season.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt on Thursday said Australians should not fear the increase in virus cases because the number of people admitted to hospital will serious illness had not grown.
“Ventilation a week ago was 54 patients with Covid around Australia. As of yesterday, there were still 54 patients on ventilation,” he told reporters.
“So, despite the increase in case numbers, there had been zero increase in ventilated patient numbers.
“Now these things can change. There can be a lag, so we’re fully prepared and I don’t want to make false promises on that.
“But so far, those signs are very, very heartening.”
Mr Hunt further noted that as of Wednesday there were 112 patients in intensive care with Covid-19 across Australia — an increase of just three people from one week earlier.
Despite his optimism, some jurisdictions have added restrictions ahead of Christmas.
Here are the latest Covid-19 numbers in each jurisdiction and a breakdown of the restrictions for Christmas.
In the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, NSW recorded a massive 5715 new cases and one death.
There are 347 people in hospital, including 45 in intensive care. Thirteen of them require ventilation.
More than 160,000 tests were conducted, compared to the previous day’s total of more than 150,000.
NSW has also reached a double dose vaccination rate of 93.5 per cent for the population aged 16 and over.
Masks are strongly encouraged in settings where you cannot physically distance.
If you are over the age of 12, you must wear a mask on public transport, in taxis and rideshare services, at airports and on aircraft, and if you are indoor hospitality staff not fully vaccinated.
Safe QR check-ins are required at venues including pubs, clubs, bars, hairdressers, various beauty salons, gyms, hospitals, residential care facilities, places of worship and indoor music festivals with more than 1000 people.
Vaccinated international passengers arriving in NSW must self-isolate until they receive a negative virus result from a test taken within 24 hours of arrival into the state.
People from overseas who are not fully vaccinated must undertake 14 days of quarantine.
Travel restrictions between Greater Sydney and regional and rural NSW for holidays no longer apply, and you do not need to register to travel within NSW.
Full details about the NSW restrictions can be found here.
An additional 2005 new cases have been recorded and 10 deaths.
There are 398 people in hospital, including 72 in intensive care.
More than 85,000 tests were conducted on Wednesday.
Victoria has a double dose vaccination rate of 92 per cent for people aged 12 and over.
Acting Premier James Merlino announced on Thursday that from 11.59pm masks would be required in all indoor settings, except homes, for people aged over eight.
Masks will also be required when moving around major events with more than 30,000 people, but not when patrons are seated outdoors.
Domestic visitors to Victoria no longer need a travel permit, unless they have been overseas in the past 14 days, and do not need to quarantine.
International travellers who enter Victoria from another jurisdiction must comply with the quarantine and testing requirements for international travellers from the time they arrive in Victoria.
Authorities have also released tips on how to minimise your risk over Christmas, including holding events outdoors and shortening the guest list. All the tips can be found here.
A further 369 new cases were recorded on Thursday.
There were more than 33,000 tests conducted in the past 24 hours.
Meanwhile, 85.36 per cent of people aged 16 and over are double dose vaccinated.
Masks must be worn on public transport, at shops, airports, indoor cinemas and theatres, by hospitality staff, in healthcare settings, and everyone in taxis and rideshare vehicles unless the driver is alone.
Queensland has different travel rules for various parts of the country under its hotspot system. The full list of rules can be found here.
You must receive a Queensland entry pass to cross the border and when you apply you will be asked about where you have been so you can obtain the appropriate type of pass.
The toughest border measures in the country remain in WA, which will move to a hard border with the rest of the country from 12.01am on Boxing Day.
While everyone in WA is essentially living a Covid-free life without restrictions, it is only possible because of the controlled border.
The Northern Territory and Tasmania will go from low risk to medium risk, which means travellers must be vaccinated, obtain an exemption, wear a mask, get tested and self-quarantine for 14 days.
Those jurisdictions will join Queensland, South Australia and the ACT as medium risk.
Meanwhile, NSW and Victoria will remain extreme risk, which means travel is restricted to vaccinated and exempt people undertaking commonwealth, state and specialist functions.
They must undertake 14 days of hotel quarantine, wear a mask and be tested.
Full details can be found here.
Premier Mark McGowan also announced this week that under his government’s vaccine mandate, which covers most workforces in the state, people must now get a third dose to be considered fully vaccinated.
A further 484 new cases were recorded overnight.
Seven patients are in hospital, including one in intensive care.
More than 22,000 people were tested on Wednesday.
The second dose vaccination rate for people aged 12 and over is at 86.9 per cent.
SA has a raft of restrictions in place, including a cap of 30 people at home gatherings and 150 people at private activities in non-residential premises.
Masks are also required for high risk settings such as disability or residential aged care facility, a correctional facility and hospitals.
The full list of restrictions can be found here.
SA has opened its borders to vaccinated interstate travellers and people must complete an EntryCheck SA application.
Overseas arrivals must also complete an application and may be taken to a medi-hotel even if they have approval for home quarantine.
An extra 85 new cases have been recorded, with three people in hospital but none in intensive care.
The ACT has a double dose vaccination rate of 98.4 per cent among people aged 12 and over.
More than 7000 tests were conducted on Wednesday, making it the fourth highest testing day of the pandemic.
The ACT government this week reintroduced the mandatory use of masks in indoor settings, except in homes.
There are also capacity limits for venues including restaurants, clubs, various beauty salons, gyms and places of worship.
All organised events must develop a Covid Safety Plan and there are different rules depending on the number of people attending.
No restrictions apply for interstate travel, except those who are close contacts. They must seek an exemption from ACT Health prior to entering the jurisdiction.
Fully vaccinated travellers who are returning from overseas and want to enter the ACT must first follow the requirements of the jurisdiction where they arrived.
If travellers are permitted to travel to the ACT, they must complete an online declaration form within 24 hours, undergo a PCR test within 24 hours of arriving in Australia, quarantine until a negative test result is received, and undergo a further test on day six.
International travellers who are not vaccinated must quarantine for 14 days at their port of entry.
The full list of restrictions in the ACT can be found here.
The Northern Territory recorded 10 new cases overnight, including five linked to the local cluster at Tennant Creek.
There are 11 patients in hospital and one unvaccinated woman, aged in her 60s, is in intensive care.
More than 2600 tests were conducted in the NT on Wednesday.
Authorities have identified 505 close contacts, with 389 of them testing negative so far.
Ali Curung came out of a lockdown on Thursday but a mask mandate will remain in place until 5pm on December 29.
Residents are also urged not to travel to remote communities.
Tennant Creek’s lockdown has also ended but the community is now in a lockout.
To leave the area you must be double dose vaccinated and cannot go to a remote community.
They must also have a negative RAT test and wear a mask until 5pm on December 29.
A mask mandate will also remain in place for the Barkly area until the same date.
Meanwhile, the Alice Springs mask mandate will end at 5pm on Christmas Eve.
All the rules can be found here.
A further 26 new cases were recorded overnight in Tasmania, with one person in hospital.
More than 3000 people have been tested in the past 24 hours.
The state has a double dose vaccination rate of 90.87 per cent for people aged 12 and over.
A mask is mandatory in some situations, including in indoor spaces, when travelling on planes and in health or aged care settings. The full list can be found here.
All travellers must register through the Tas e-Travel system and must show a vaccination certificate.
The ACT, as well as parts of Victoria and NSW, are considered high risk areas, which means those travellers must return a negative PCR test within 72 hours before departure to Tasmania.
Unvaccinated travellers must apply for approval to enter Tasmania.