ESCALATING case numbers suggest the regional NSW lockdown will be extended for at least another seven days.
Deputy premier John Barilaro said the lockdown in regional NSW would be one of the topics discussed at Wednesday afternoon's crisis cabinet meeting.
He would not be drawn on the likelihood of the lockdown being extended, saying that an announcement would come on Thursday at the 11am press conference.
However, Member for Bathurst Paul Toole, who is one of the seven ministers involved in crisis cabinet talks, told the Western Advocate that it was highly likely regional communities would still be under stay-at-home orders next week.
"I think realistically people are expecting another seven days of stay-at-home orders in regional NSW," Mr Toole said.
"What we've actually seen is escalating numbers that have been occurring across the state. You've got places like Dubbo with 128 cases, cases in Mudgee, Bourke, we've had exposure sites in Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo, we've had positive fragments detected in the sewage in Bathurst and Orange as well, so it does seem highly likely that we will be in for another seven-day period."
Mr Barilaro flagged earlier in the week that there was a "50-50" chance of lockdown being lifted at 12.01am on Sunday, and that potentially some regional local government areas (LGAs) would be released before others.
On Wednesday, he said that a decision on when and how lockdowns could be lifted was still under discussion.
"We as a crisis cabinet will have to make a decision: do we want to go on a LGA approach, or do we want to go on a state-wide approach? That's a decision that hasn't been made, but once we make that decision, if we are prepared to go on an LGA approach, we can set some criteria around that," Mr Barilaro said.
IN OTHER NEWS:
"It could be something like there are no cases, no segments through the sewage surveillance and you're not an adjoining LGA to a LGA that may have cases. They could be the three criteria that you apply and that could easily, in my mind, work out who opens and who doesn't.
"But that's only if, once we map this out across the board, what that looks like as a footprint on regional/rural NSW and what risk that then poses for those areas that have no cases."
The comments followed another record day of new COVID-19 cases in NSW, with 633 identified in the 24 hours to 8pm Tuesday.
With the situation seemingly getting worse, not better, residents of regional NSW have been urged to continue following the health advice to the letter and to get vaccinated.
"The majority of people are doing the right thing and I've got to say thank you for doing that. These people are keeping themselves, their families and the community safe. But, again, we don't want to see a small minority of people doing the wrong thing because you're putting everything at risk," Mr Toole said.
"Stay at home orders are about trying to lessen any mobility at the moment so that we can stop the spread of this virus while people are getting vaccinated as quickly as possible."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.