The day we have all been waiting for has arrived: the day NSW premiere Gladys Berejiklian would announce what is in store for the fully vaxxed good folk of NSW come the state's 70% fully vaccinated rate, and what a treat it is! As we knuckle through our 11th week in lockdown, The light at the end of the tunnel no longer looks as much like a bin fire as it did a month ago, and the tiniest flicker of hope is beginning to bloom for our NSW lockdown exit
The plan was announced at the daily coronavirus press conference today, Thursday, September 9, and will apply to adults who are fully vaccinated, as well as children and people with medical exemptions. “So you have been warned,” Berejiklian said in the press conference. “If you’re not vaccinated, come forward and get the vaccine, otherwise you won’t be able to participate in the many freedoms that people have at 70% vaccination.”
Despite our hope that this can all be in the bag by a proposed date of October 18, Berejiklian noted that the freedoms would only be rolled out once the entire state reaches a 70% vaccination rate, the changes will come into effect on the Monday following the milestone (bad news if we hit it on a Tuesday), which serves as a further incentive for the people of NSW to book in for vaccination. When measured against the states current vaccination rate, we can hope to have these freedoms back by mid October at the earliest.
“I want to stress that whilst today the NSW Government is outlining our road map for the way forward in NSW, we are definitely not out of the woods,” Berejiklian added, after noting this morning that 1,405 new cases and sadly six deaths recorded overnight. “We know that case numbers are likely to peak in the next week or so and we also know that our hospital system will be under the greatest stress in October.
“However, we also know that living with COVID means you have a cautious and staged reopening, once you get to the high rates of vaccination in your adult population.”
Below, is a list of all of the freedoms the fully vaccinated people of NSW will be able to enjoy once we surpass 70%.
When it comes to hanging out with our sweet pals again, we'll be allowed to have have up to five fully vaccinated visitors over. For outdoor gatherings, up to 20 fully vaccinated adults will be able to hang out together. Which is quite a step up from the measly offering of up to five people outdoors together for only an hour!
The pub is making a comeback! Venues like restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs will all be allowed to reopen with one person per 4 square metres indoors, and one person per 2 square metres for outdoor spaces, similar to the eased restrictions we dealt with last year.
All of the shops closed during this time will be able to reopen under the one person per 4 square metres rule. The exception, is that people who aren’t fully vaccinated will only be allowed into critical retail premises – in other words, supermarkets and other shops selling essential goods.
“If you want to go and buy something which is regarded as a non-essential shop, you will have to scan the QR code and if it is not showing a green light saying you have been vaccinated, you won’t be welcome inside,” Berejiklian said.
Hello, my friend the plane! The NSW government has noted that domestic travel will be allowed when the state hits its 70% double-dose targets, although that depends on the feelings of the other state leaders, who haven't been particularly warm towards NSW since we were plunged into lockdown. “I don’t expect other states to open their borders to us at that time – far from it – because other states will be catching up to get their vaccination rates at 70% double dose,” Berejiklian said.
On the note of international travel (!!!) Berejiklian said, “I have every confidence that by the time New South Wales gets to 80% double dose – and I don’t think too many states will be too far behind – that we will then, at that stage, not have any internal borders in Australia and our eye will be towards international travel as well.”
Fitness and beauty
Under the one person per square meter rule, Gyms and indoor and outdoor sporting facilities will reopen, including swimming pools, with classes capped at 20 fully vaccinated people.
We will also be able to get a trim once again, with hairdressers allowed to have up to five clients at a time in addition to the one person per 4 square metres rule. The same applies to nail salons and similar venues. Hoorah for a bit of pampering and to get rid of our ghastly split ends.
While fully vaccinated folks will be able to enjoy a range of freedoms, masks will remain mandatory for everyone over the age of 12 in all public, indoor venues like shops and on public transport. Masks outside will no longer be required except for hospitality staff on the clock.
I smell live music! Outdoor facilities like stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos will be able to reopen under the one person per 4 square metres rule, with a cap of 5,000 people. Other outdoor events like outdoor gigs will be allowed to have up to 500 people, with the requirement that everyone is seated, and indoor venues like theatres, cinemas, museums and galleries, will be required to adhere to the one person per four square metres rule with a cap of just 75 seated people.
Weddings, funerals and places of worship
A total of 50 people will be allowed at weddings and funerals, with people required to remain seated while eating and drinking. Places of worship will be able to reopen under the one person per 4 square metres rule, with singing unfortunately still be banned.
So there you have it! While the roadmap for the lockdown exit and these freedoms are exciting and refreshing, it is important to note that if any areas have mass outbreaks, the state government won't hesitate to lock us back down, vaccinated or not, so it's important to continue being safe and responsible as we navigate our way through this next phase.