Australia Weather News

AMA unhappy with NSW mask changes

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) says it is disappointed the NSW government has announced the easing of mask restrictions.

From December 15 — or when the state reaches 95 per cent double vaccinated — masks will no longer be required in shops or restaurants.

The mandatory mask rules will remain in place for public transport, airports, and for unvaccinated front-of-house hospitality staff. 

AMA state president Danielle McMullen said masks could help prevent a rise in COVID-19 case numbers. 

"We know that masks protect us and particularly protect those around us that are vulnerable" Dr McMullen said.

"We would've preferred to see masks indoors remain in place through the busy shopping season, particularly as we see other restrictions ease."

Change to COVID rules for schools

From Monday, students and teaching staff who are a close contact of a COVID-19 case can return to the classroom as soon as they receive a negative PCR test.

The changes will require close contacts to return negative rapid antigen tests for the subsequent seven days. 

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the success of cohorting — the practice of avoiding unnecessary contact between year groups — would also mean schools would rarely need to close. 

"What we'll end up with now is, generally speaking, not having to see schools close when there's a positive case," Ms Mitchell said.

Tornado forms as wild weather hits NSW

La Niña is well and truly making its presence felt in NSW, with widespread rain impacting several communities. 

The Bureau of Meteorology confirmed a tornado briefly formed last night in Burra, 20 kilometres south of Queanbeyan, in the state's south-east.

It did not touch the ground and there was no damage to property. 

In mid-October, a tornado ripped through the town of Orange, overturning vehicles and ripping off roofs. 

Two weeks earlier, a similar weather event injured three people near Bathurst and left a 30km trail of destruction.

Hazzard makes booster shots plea

Health Minister Brad Hazzard says COVID booster shots will be an important part of keeping the community safe through the summer and new year.

Mr Hazzard urged people who received a second COVID-19 vaccination jab six months or more ago to book a booster "right now".

People aged 18 and older can receive the Pfizer booster dose at least six months after receiving their second dose of any of the COVID-19 vaccines registered for use in Australia.

"By stepping up for a jab and a booster shot, you help protect yourself and everyone around you, including the elderly, those with underlying health conditions and young children who aren't yet eligible for vaccinations," Mr Hazzard said.