The New South Wales (NSW) government in Australia has announced that fully vaccinated residents of Sydney, and its surrounding regions, will start getting their freedoms back once 70 percent of the state’s population is vaccinated—which is earmarked to be in October.
NSW State Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the roadmap that would see the state’s progression out of lockdown, which has been ongoing since late June to contain an outbreak of the Delta variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
“We’ve also had input from our health experts and stakeholders to make sure that when we start reopening, it’s at 70 percent double dose—that it’s done in a safe way,” the premier told reporters on Sept. 9, noting that the “freedoms” would be granted on the first Monday after the target was reached.
“And it’s only for people who are vaccinated. So, you have been warned, 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,” she added.
The premier said once 80 percent of the population was vaccinated, more freedoms would be available around major events, international travel, and community sport.
The freedoms available once the 70 percent benchmark is reached include the opening of retail stores, hair salons, and gyms, however, they will only be accessible to those who have received two doses of the vaccine.
Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant said NSW health authorities would need to upgrade contract tracing measures to monitor the vaccination status of residents.
“We’re going to have to work on a number of those things and redesign what our test trace and isolate policies are into the future,” she said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the NSW roadmap saying it follows closely with the plan agreed to by the National Cabinet.
“This plan keeps the deal, keeps the faith, with the people of Australia and the people of New South Wales set out in the national plan,” he told reporters.
“This plan supports the initiatives that are there being driven by the safe process of opening underwritten by the Doherty modelling and supported by the national plan.”
In late July, the National Cabinet—an intergovernmental body involving the prime minister and state and territory leaders—agreed on a four-stage vaccination roadmap based on modelling from the Doherty Institute.
Federal and state governments are pinning their hopes on improving vaccination rates to control the outbreak and move away from relying on harsh lockdown measures and restrictions.
The country is currently in Phase A of the plan, to speed up vaccination rates.
Once 70 percent of the country’s population is vaccinated Phase B is triggered, which is meant to see stay-at-home orders and restrictions largely removed around the country.
At 80 percent, international travel will return.
The latest announcement from the NSW government comes after public discontent at prolonged lockdowns began spilling over, with an increase in protest activity and petitions against government-mandated restrictions, and vaccine mandates or passports.
The NSW roadmap includes the following:
GATHERINGS IN THE HOME AND PUBLIC SPACES
- Up to five visitors in a home where all adults are vaccinated (not including children 12 and under).
- Up to 20 people can gather outdoors.
HOSPITALITY VENUES, SHOPS AND GYMS
- Hospitality venues can open with one person per four sq/m inside and one person per two sq/m outside and standing while drinking will be permitted outside.
- Shops can open under one person per four sq/m rule.
- Unvaccinated people will only be allowed to access critical retail shops, such as supermarkets.
- Personal services—such as hairdressers and nail salons—can open with one person per four sq/m, capped at five clients per premises.
- Gyms and indoor recreation facilities can open under one person per four sq/m rule, with classes capped at 20.
- Sporting facilities including swimming pools can open.
STADIUMS, THEATRES AND MAJOR OUTDOOR RECREATION FACILITIES
- Major outdoor recreation facilities – including stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos – can open with one person per four sq/m, capped at 5000 people.
- Up to 500 people can attend ticketed and seated outdoor events.
- Indoor entertainment facilities—including cinemas, theatres, music halls, museums, and galleries – can open with one person per four sq/m, or 75 per cent fixed seated capacity.
WEDDINGS, FUNERALS AND PLACES OF WORSHIP
- Up to 50 guests can attend weddings and dance but eating and drinking are only permitted while seated.
- Up to 50 guests can attend funerals, with eating and drinking permitted while seated.
- Churches and places of worship can open subject to the one person per four sq/m rule, with no singing.
- Domestic travel, including trips to regional NSW, permitted.
- Caravan parks and camping grounds can open.
- Carpooling will be permitted.
- Non-vaccinated people aged under 16 will have access to all outdoor settings, but will only be able to visit indoor venues with people from their household.
- Employers must continue to allow employees to work from home if the employee is able to do so.
- There will be revised guidance on isolation for close and casual contacts who are fully vaccinated.
- Masks remain mandatory for all indoor public venues—including public transport, front-of-house hospitality, retail and business premises and on planes—and at airports.
- Only hospitality staff will be required to wear a mask outdoors.
- Children aged under 12 won’t need a mask indoors.
- Kindergarten and Year One students will return to the classroom on Oct. 25.
- Year 12 students undertaking their final HSC exams can study on campus from Oct. 25.