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NSW premier defends his pandemic record as COVID-19 cases surge and restrictions are reinstated

The Tamworth Country Musical Festival organisers on Friday announced the event, due to start in a week, would be postponed as a result.

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The government on Friday announced non-urgent elective surgery will be suspended until mid-February, releasing new modelling that predicts the impact of the Omicron variant on the health system.

Under the “most realistic” scenario, the state will need 4,700 hospital beds at the peak of the outbreak, 273 of them in ICU.

Comparatively, at the peak of the Delta outbreak in September, there were 1,266 people in hospital with infections and 244 in intensive care.

Asked several times whether easing restrictions in December, only to reinstate many of them within a month, was the right call, Mr Perrottet said the Omicron variant required a different response.

“It is much, much less severe, and the approach we’ve taken is the right approach,” he said.

“Clearly in the middle of a pandemic, when cases arise, that will dampen confidence but ultimately, the alternative is to lock down.”

Asked if he’d give his government a “gold star” for it’s decision-making, he doubled down.

“The approach this government has taken every step of the way over the last two years has ensured we have one of the lowest death rates in the world, and at the same time one of the strongest economies in the world.”

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But state opposition leader Chris Minns has criticised his comments.

“If that’s his idea of success, I’d hate to hear what his idea of failure is,” he told reporters on Friday.

“At the end of the day, the premier told the people of NSW who raised concerns about hospital overcrowding and rising case numbers that they were being alarmist or they were being bed wetters.”

Mr Perrottet on Friday also announced NSW will join Western Australia in requiring teachers, health workers and those in frontline disability roles to get a booster shot to be considered “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19.