Mystery COVID-19 cases will become less worrying to health authorities as the ACT prepares to take its first steps to reopening.
New contact tracing rules, set to be released on Wednesday, will place less emphasis on cases where the source of the infection cannot be identified.
ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman has given the official go ahead for the territory's lockdown to be lifted this Friday.
Greater freedoms will also be given to residents in the surrounding capital region with Canberra's border bubble to be expanded to include places such as Goulburn, Braidwood and Cooma.
But it's still unclear as to when ACT residents will have freedom of movement in NSW.
Dr Coleman revealed on Tuesday that there have been 155 mystery cases throughout Canberra's outbreak, which is about 13 per cent of the total 1262 cases.
She said as the ACT moved out of lockdown it would no longer be necessary to identify every source of infection.
"As we move forward, our ability to identify the source of infection for every case is just not going to be possible but it also becomes unnecessary," Dr Coleman said.
"We will have very high vaccination rates and of course with more people moving around the community we will have more cases.
"We will be changing our focus gradually as we develop more cases in the community."
Greater movement across the ACT border would also further complicate contact tracing. It comes as confusion has reigned over cross-border arrangements after NSW lifted its lockdown for fully vaccinated residents on Monday.
Rules for NSW residents who work in Canberra were eased overnight on Monday meaning those individuals will no longer be subject to stay-at-home orders upon returning in NSW.
However, stay-at-home orders still apply to any NSW resident who has been in the ACT for non-essential reasons.
But in a twist of events, NSW residents who travel to the ACT for work will now be allowed to enjoy the territory's relaxed rules on Friday, provided they are already in Canberra for essential reasons.
"You're not coming in to go to the pub, but if you are here for work or one of the approved reasons then the range of activities that you can undertake when you are here includes those that other Canberrans will be able to enjoy from Friday," Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.
ACT residents are still barred from entering NSW unless it's for work or medical reasons.
Under NSW public health orders, fully vaccinated people in regional parts of the state are able to travel to other regional areas. People in Sydney are able to travel until the state reaches an 80 per cent vaccination rate.
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Mr Barr said he expected Canberrans would definitely be able to travel within NSW by November. He said the state could possibly even lift some travel restrictions on Friday.
"I think there is an expectation that it will happen later this month when they cross a particular vaccination threshold," he said.
"It could be that us coming out of lockdown on Friday triggers some further easing of restrictions as it relates to regional NSW or to certain parts of regional NSW."
Even if NSW lifted its restrictions on ACT travellers on Friday, Canberrans would still be prevented from travelling to the state under ACT public health orders. Travel to most parts of regional NSW is likely to resume on October 29.
ACT Senator Zed Seselja said he has been lobbying NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet to change the rules to allow ACT residents to be able to travel like they have the same rules as people in regional NSW.
"There's no reason why people from Canberra shouldn't be able to travel to parts of regional NSW," Senator Seselja told The Canberra Times.
"I'm hearing from a lot of frustrated Canberrans who just want to be able to do normal things. I understand the need to do things safely but that's where we're getting to and... that should be the great benefit of what we've all achieved together through high vaccination rates."
- With Karen Barlow
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