The day we have all been waiting for has almost arrived: the day NSW hits 70 percent double dose vaccination rates, and giving us the light at the end of the tunnel that no longer looks as much like a bin fire as it did a month ago.
Last month, ex-premier Gladys Berejiklian - who resigned just last week and has been promptly replaced with the unsavoury conservative NSW treasurer, Dominic Perrottet - announced that once the state hit 70 percent double dose vaccination rates, the state could look at reopening up. Just yesterday, October 7, this dream became a reality, and as of Monday 11, we'll be able to alfresco dine once again.
The original plan was announced at the daily coronavirus press conference last month on 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 percent vaccination.”
“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.”
Here is a list of all of the freedoms the fully vaccinated people in NSW have at the 70 percent vaccination mark
Perrottet, who was confirmed as the new NSW premier on Tuesday, October 5, has already axed Berejiklian's well thought-out reopening plan that she hatched alongside Dr. Kerry Chant. He has introduced more relaxed protocols in what we can only assume is a sad attempt at winning the people's affection. Unfortunately, if the premier moves too hard and fast in his plight to become a well-liked premier, there is the possibility of everything backfiring and leaving us once again in the lurch (the lockdown lurch, to be specific). Of course, this is simply speculation considering he didn't let Dr. Chant speak at the most recent press conference where he announced these adjustments to confirm or deny much of the states worry.
Below, is a list of the newly adjusted freedoms double vaccinated folks will be able to enjoy as of October 11.
When it comes to hanging out with our sweet pals again, the number of visitors allowed to your home will increase from five to 10 people (excluding children 12 and under). For outdoor gatherings, it will increase from 20 to 30 people who 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.
Up to 20 people will be allowed per booking, and people under 16 who are unvaccinated can also attend hospitality venues, but must be accompanied by a fully vaccinated member of their household.
Masks and QR code check ins will still be required indoors, but not in outdoor hospitality settings.
Standing up and drinking inside the pub will not be allowed until 80 percent vaccination coverage is reached. But if the venue has an outdoor section, feel free to duck our there for a standing beer from 11 October.
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.
While the NSW government initially noted that domestic travel will be allowed when the state hits its 70 percent double-dose targets, clarity has been provided, and it's not that great just yet.
People in Sydney will no longer be required to keep within the 5km radius rule, and can travel within greater Sydney (including Central Coast, Wollongong, Shellharbour and the Blue Mountains). Residents of regional LGAs can travel to other areas, but cannot enter Sydney for holidays. Sydneysiders will not yet be able to travel regionally, after the NSW government pushed back this freedom to the second stage of reopening.
Carpooling will be allowed again, and caravan parks will reopen.
On the note of international travel (!!!) Berejiklian said, “I have every confidence that by the time New South Wales gets to 80 percent 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.
Indoor pools will only be accessible for lessons, lap swimming and rehabilitation activities, not recreation. Community sport won’t be allowed to restart yet.
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. When 80% vaccine coverage is reached, the cap will be removed, but the same density limit will apply.
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.
Entertainment and information facilities like cinemas, museums, libraries and theatres will be allowed to reopen, under the one person per 4 sq metres rule and a 75% fixed seating capacity.
Weddings, funerals and places of worship
The caps in relation to weddings and funerals will increase from 50 to 100 people, 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 only permitted for performers. There will be a 10 person limit on choirs, and all performers will have to be fully vaccinated.
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.