After 12 long months, NSW residents can finally stand at the bar and enjoy a cold one – just in time for St Patrick’s Day festivities.

From Wednesday, people in NSW will be permitted to stand and drink at a bar, as promised during the state’s last round of restriction-easing in late February.

It comes after the NSW premier on Tuesday reiterated her determination to get as many people vaccinated against COVID-19 as possible, saying the AstraZeneca jab is safe and “absolutely critical”.

Numerous countries have suspended their AstraZeneca rollout after some recipients developed blood clots, but Gladys Berejiklian is not deterred.

“I have full confidence in the vaccine and I have full confidence in our health experts. I certainly wouldn’t have taken it if I hadn’t done my homework – which I have – and I feel completely safe,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters.

Within three weeks, NSW will have completed an extra 80,000 jabs and 45,000 new people would have started their vaccine process.

NSW has recorded no new cases in the community since a security guard, who worked at a Sydney quarantine hotel, was diagnosed with the virus.

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Health authorities were on high alert after the 47-year-old guard was on Sunday diagnosed with COVID-19, breaking the state’s 55-day virus-free run.

It isn’t clear how the guard at Sydney’s Sofitel hotel contracted the virus as there were no obvious breaches of health protocols.

However the guard has the same highly contagious UK virus strain as an infected traveller residing on the floor on which he worked.

It was hoped the guard was less contagious after receiving the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine, NSW Health’s Dr Jeremy McAnulty said on Tuesday.

Health alerts remain in place for venues around Hurstville in Sydney’s south.

The guard’s infection sparked concern other states were poised to shut their borders again, which Ms Berejiklian advised against.

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This was particularly important three weeks out from Easter holidays.

“While the vaccine is being rolled out and the level of transmission is low-to-negligible, there shouldn’t be any internal borders in our nation. We should be moving freely as Australians,” Ms Berejiklian said.

AAP

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