SYDNEY, AAP – The NSW premier is vowing to forge ahead and keep “the economy moving” in his approach to battling the pandemic, saying he wants “all industries back as quickly as possible”.

“Sometimes the right road unfortunately is the hard road and the less popular road,” Dominic Perrottet said on Tuesday.

COVID-19 cases increased by 2253 to 9690 on Tuesday and there were 18 more deaths – four more than the previous day.

The number of patients in hospital fell by 31 to 2068, with 132 people in intensive care, 61 of them on ventilators.

“No-one can hide from this virus,” Mr Perottet said.

“The best thing we can do … is get vaccinated, get boosted.”

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said about 48.6 per cent of the eligible population has had a third vaccine dose, and flagged that more jabs may be required down the track.

She urged people to get tested and vaccinated, including a third booster shot, even with falling hospitalisation rates.

“The vaccines work,” she said on Tuesday.

“We will be having an ongoing journey with COVID as it transitions … we may be recommending in future months additional vaccines,” she said.

Mr Perrottet inspected the underground Sydney Metro project at Central Station on Tuesday, saying the construction industry had played a vital role in sustaining the NSW economy throughout the pandemic.

The project was part of the state’s $70 billion transport infrastructure projects that had created 130,000 jobs, he said.

“We continue to lead the way out of this pandemic here in NSW … We continue to keep the economy moving (and) we continue to have substantial capacity in our health system.”

The state’s simultaneous vaccination drive and a gradual opening up of public spaces had been the correct formula needed two years into the virus spread, he said.

“Populism is the wrong approach in a pandemic.

“What you need from your leaders is to do what is right…What we’ve seen globally in shutting down …. is that Omicron continues to spread. That is the reality.

“We need businesses open and lockdown is not the right approach.”

That policy has also extended to education with the premier saying it’s “unlikely” rapid antigen tests will continue in schools beyond this month.

“We are assessing what we’re going to do from week four onwards,” he said, noting the second round of deliveries to schools were on their way.

He also joined the NSW Tourism Industry Council in welcoming the federal government announcement that international travellers will be welcome from February 21, saying the state needed people to fill jobs.

Greg Binskin, the state’s Tourism Executive Manager, said opening the borders was the boost NSW needed.

“With our borders closed for years to key markets, the pent-up demand to visit Australia remains strong, and as the world airlines start to return to NSW, it’s the news the industry is starting to celebrate and plan.”

Mr Perrottet threw his support behind the return of the cruise industry while acknowledging ships created “an environment where COVID would naturally spread”.

“We have a highly vaccinated population and the cruise industry needs to be returned in a safe way as soon as possible.”