SYDNEY, AAP – Sydney’s public transport services will return to a regular timetable at the end of the month when COVID-19 restrictions are expected to ease.

Transport Minister David Elliott says train services will return to a weekday timetable from February 28, to accommodate a rise in patronage with an expected return of people to the office.

Public transport has been running on a reduced timetable since last month because of staff shortages caused by the COVID-19 Omicron wave.

COVID-19 restrictions, such as indoor mask mandates, remain in force until February 27 but the state government is keen to get workers back into offices when they lift.

In the past week, the number of people using rail services has climbed seven per cent compared to the previous week, with 541,905 average daily weekday trips made on Sydney Trains services, Mr Elliott said.

“This is a great sign, it shows customers have the confidence to jump on public transport as more people get back to major centres like Sydney’s CBD and Parramatta,” he told Sydney radio 2GB on Wednesday.

“There will be more people buying coffee, more people buying sandwiches, more visitors to retail outlets, more restaurants, pubs and clubs being used and of course, it will see an improvement in the economic indicators across the city.”

Meanwhile, Treasurer Matt Kean says small businesses that experienced a downturn over the summer can apply for a government support payment of up to $5000 per week through Service NSW.

The Small Business Support Program will provide cash to help businesses get through the current COVID-19 outbreak and keep workers employed.

NSW recorded 8201 new COVID-19 cases and 16 more deaths on Tuesday.