The New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet has introduced new COVID-19 restrictions, and vaccine mandates as the state’s Omicron COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise.
“We’re dealing with a highly transmissible variant, but fortunately, it appears to be a much less severe form of COVID-19, and our high vaccination rates are clearly helping to keep people safe,” Perrottet said.
From Jan. 8 to Jan. 27, singing and dancing will be prohibited in all hospitality venues, entertainment facilities, and major recreation facilities.
However, this prohibition will not apply for weddings or for students and instructors and performers in classes or in any of these settings.
Major events will also be risk-assessed by the state’s health department, premier and cabinet, with event organisers asked to proceed with their event assuming it will go on as normal unless contacted by the health department to advise otherwise.
Additionally, essential workers are also mandated to receive their booster shots.
“Anybody for whom vaccination was mandatory already will now have boosters mandated,” Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.
“This means for people working in particular settings to be classified as fully vaccinated, they will now need to have had three shots.
Elective surgeries have also been pushed back to reduce the strain on the already-stressed healthcare system due to shortages from staff calling in sick or isolating.
“We’re extending the usual holiday suspension of non-urgent elective surgery through to February and will utilise private hospital capacity where needed, as we did during the Alpha and Delta outbreaks,” said Perrottet.
The Deputy Secretary of the New South Wales Health Susan Pearce told residents that the surgical slowdowns were not a decision taken “lightly.”
“It is not something that we consider unnecessary surgery, and we appreciate what it means for every single person on the receiving end of those phone calls,” she said at the press conference on Friday.
The state has also updated its new modelling (pdf) for hospitalisations with the worst-case scenario modelled after what has been seen in New York, where 600 ICU beds were occupied, and 6,000 hospitalisations were seen at the peak of the Omicron wave.
The projection modelled after NSW’s current parameters is believed to be the most realistic, with 273 ICU beds occupied and 4,700 hospitalisations from COVID-19 at the peak.
This peak in cases is expected to occur around the third to the last week of January.
“What we see in these curves is that they rise sharply, and there is also a relatively sharp decline,” Pearce said.
“We believe by the middle of February, we will be certainly well past the peak of this.”
“We have got some challenging weeks ahead of us, but we have been planning for this pandemic and continuing to reinvent ourselves for two years now.”
Following the national cabinet meeting on Jan. 5, individuals who receive a COVID positive rapid antigen test will no longer be required to take a subsequent PCR test.
Perrottet has previously promised that the state would not go back to lockdowns in a press conference on Dec. 29. However, he has not ruled out targetted restrictions.
As of Jan. 7, there have been 38,625 new cases, 1,738 people hospitalised and 134 in intensive care in NSW.