National News

NSW stimulus amid 'devastating' job losses

Al fresco dining will be encouraged and NSW residents will be armed with more vouchers to spend at restaurants and museums, as the government tries to jump start the economy amid "devastating" jobs losses.

The state saw almost 25,000 jobs lost last month, according to data released on Thursday.

About 260,000 people lost their work in the June quarter, the result of extensive COVID-19 lockdowns.

Treasurer Matt Kean called the latest jobs data "devastating".

Premier Dominic Perrottet said he was aiming to get as many of those jobs back as possible now the state was reopening.

He announced that adults in NSW would get two more $25 vouchers in December - one for dining and one for entertainment.

It's an extension of the popular Dine and Discover program in December, which 4.8 million people have used.

"Everybody loves it, wherever you live," he said in question time on Thursday.

The premier said the Dine and Discover program was costing the government $250 million but had delivered a $500 million shot in the arm for businesses around the state.

But Labor leader Chris Minns suggested the funding had already been set aside but not spent on the program, suggesting people hadn't used the vouchers they were entitled to.

In an attempt to bring "life and laughter into the city", the premier also announced that small bars and pubs will be allowed to set up tables and footpaths indefinitely.

Up to $500,000 will be available in grants for councils to improve their high streets.

Hospitality businesses can also apply for grants to help them embrace alfresco dining.

Mr Perrottet told parliament spending figures from this first week of reopening were encouraging, with total spending across the state up 20 per cent.

Meanwhile, 406 more people were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, down from 444 the previous day.

NSW Health announced six more deaths on Thursday. They included three men and three women: two in their 60s, two in their 80s and two in their 90s.

The state looks set to reach its 80 per cent double COVID-19 vaccination milestone by the weekend - a week earlier than expected.

Opening up regional travel will reportedly be delayed because some rural communities have lower vaccination rates.

In areas such as Byron Bay, just 47 per cent of the eligible adult population is double-vaccinated.

There have been 454 COVID-19 related deaths in NSW in this outbreak, which began on June 16, and 510 in total since the start of the pandemic.

There are 711 COVID-19 cases in hospital, with 143 people in intensive care, 75 of whom require ventilation.

More than 91 per cent of the eligible population have had their first vaccination and 77.8 per cent are now fully vaccinated.

© AAP 2021