In welcome news for Sydneysiders, the NSW Government has slightly eased coronavirus restrictions for the holiday period. From December 24 to 26, households in the greater Sydney region will continue to be allowed just 10 visitors to their homes, but with one small tweak: children under the age of 12 will not count towards that number. Come December 27, though, that number will return to 10 in total.

“What you have today is what you will have on December 27,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in this morning’s press conference.

She added that households aren’t allowed to have several groups of 10 over the course of the day.

“Can I stress, you cannot have different groups of 10 people during the day,” she said. “It’s one group of 10 and you have to stick to that group of 10, plus kids under 12.”

The northern beaches region, however, will continue to be placed under harsher restrictions than the rest of Sydney – and the region is being divided into two areas, each with different rules.

The northern area – anywhere north of the Narrabeen Bridge and east of the Baha’i Temple on Mona Vale Road – will remain in lockdown over the Christmas period. However, residents will be allowed five visitors from December 24 to 26, but those visitors must be from within the northern area.

Residents of the southern area – including Manly and Dee Why – will be permitted 10 visitors over the Christmas period, and those visitors could come from anywhere in Sydney. The catch? Residents of the southern area aren’t permitted to leave.

The announcement comes as NSW recorded eight new cases of the virus today. Seven of those cases are connected to the northern beaches cluster, while the eighth – a health transport worker – is linked in an unknown way to the same cluster.

“This person did not acquire genome infection through transporting patients on December 14 – in fact sequencing shows it is linked to the Avalon cluster,” said NSW’s chief health officer Doctor Kerry Chant. “We do not know how this is linked to the Avalon cluster.”