NSW has crossed the 1000-case mark for daily COVID-19 infections on the same day the government announced its "treat" for the fully vaccinated.
From September 13, up to five fully vaccinated adults can gather outdoors, but only those outside of western Sydney's local government areas of concern.
Children - not yet vaccinated - can be included in these groups of five.
In the 12 council areas of concern, households with all adults vaccinated can gather outdoors for recreation, such as picnics - but not with other households.
It comes as NSW reports a record 1029 new local COVID-19 cases - 844 for which the isolation status remains unknown - and four deaths.
Three of the deaths reported on Thursday were unvaccinated - a man in his 30s, a man in his 60s and a man in his 80s.
NSW Health later reported the death of another man in his 60s, to be included in Friday's numbers, who caught the virus earlier this month while an inpatient at Nepean Hospital.
It takes the death toll for the ten-week outbreak to 80.
A two-week extension of the lockdown in regional NSW was also announced, given the number of cases in Dubbo and western NSW.
Decisions are looming on a plan to return students to school and how to conduct the HSC amidst the COVID-19 crisis, as are announcements on more assistance for businesses amid lockdown.
The long-promised restriction change announced on Thursday, earned after the state reached six million vaccinations, is a "baby step" but will provide an element of hope to locked-down locals, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said.
As of Tuesday, 61.47 per cent of eligible NSW residents have had at least one vaccine dose, while just under 33 per cent are fully jabbed.
However, the announcement comes as concerns grow over the ability of Sydney's hospitals to cope with the spiralling outbreak.
There are almost 700 COVID-19 patients in NSW hospitals, with 116 in intensive care beds and 43 ventilated.
At least two western Sydney hospitals - Westmead with 121 virus patients and Blacktown with 15 - have called "code yellows" as their caseload climbs.
More than 1500 COVID-19 patients are also being cared for in the community by the Western Sydney Local Health District.
NSW Health says it manages about 500 intensive care beds across NSW, with a surge capacity of about 2000 when required. At current capacities, almost 80 per cent of available intensive care beds in NSW are filled.
But Health Minister Brad Hazzard has moved to reassure the public the state's healthcare system will cope, on Thursday introducing a new measure hoped to help it do so.
The state will become the first to require health staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Health workers must have their first dose of vaccine by September 30 and be fully vaccinated by November 30, or at least have their second appointment booked to continue working.
Mr Hazzard said most health staff had already rolled up their sleeves, but the new public health order would provide greater protection for their colleagues, patients and visitors.
"It will also ease pressure on our health system during this challenging time," he said in a statement.
"More than 1,200 healthcare workers have been in isolation each day over the past seven days and we cannot afford that right now."
NSW Police have also finally nabbed a 27-year-old COVID-positive man who had been on the run from authorities after refusing to isolate.
Anthony Karam - dubbed the "worst of the worst" by Mr Hazzard - was arrested in Wentworth Point on Thursday evening, five days after Dr Chant appealed for public help to track him down.
Charges are expected to be laid.
Australian Associated Press
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