Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged fully vaccinated NSW residents to enjoy their new-found freedoms after the state ended more than 100 days of lockdown.
Monday also marked the end of 14 days of quarantine for Mr Morrison at The Lodge in Canberra after he returned from the US last month.
“This is the day so many have been looking forward to, the day when things we take for granted we celebrate,” he said.
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“I want to thank Australians for the incredible job that they’ve done in getting vaccinated.
“To all those particularly in Sydney and across New South Wales who are opening up today, enjoy the moment, enjoy it with your family and friends.”
It comes after more than 400,000 COVID-19 vaccines were administered nationally over the weekend – the single largest weekend since the vaccine rollout began in February.
Despite Greater Sydney reopening for the first time since the lockdown began in June, Mr Morrison said vaccinations rates must be pushed higher, including in states where are zero cases.
“We need those vaccines to make sure that when COVID certainly comes, that in those states you will be able to continue on as you have,” he said.
Meanwhile, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said NSW was unlikely to go into lockdown again due to the state’s high vaccination rates.
Mr Hunt was also confident the state’s hospital system would be able to cope with an expected surge in case numbers following the easing of restrictions.
“I’m confident that NSW has made the right decision, they’ve made the right decision on vaccinations, on lockdowns and contact tracing,” Mr Hunt told ABC radio.
“Many people would say a 100-day lockdown was too long but what they have done is strike the right balance. It has been incredibly difficult, it has been hellishly difficult for so many people.”
NSW reported 496 new cases on Monday, along with eight more COVID-19 related deaths.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 booster shots will are available from Monday for severely immunocompromised Australians.
Mr Hunt said the national advisory body on immunisations was expected to provide advice by the end of the month on how a national program could be rolled out for rest of the population.
Some 150 million doses of boosters shots have been secured for 2022 and beyond.
Across the nation, vaccination rates are at 82.2 per cent for people over 16 with a first dose, while almost 62 per cent are fully vaccinated.
© AAP 2021