Freshly minted New South Wales (NSW) Premier Dominic Perrottet has announced new changes to the roadmap out of lockdowns, as the state passed its 70 percent vaccination target on Wednesday.
The NSW government said “Freedom Day” will not be brought forward and remains scheduled for Monday, Oct. 11, but has decided to further ease restrictions at each stage of the roadmap.
“These changes today are measured, sensible, and ensured we open up in a very safe way,” NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet told the press on Thursday.
All roadmap “freedoms” will also only apply to people who are fully vaccinated only.
Changes to the 70 percent roadmap include doubling the number of visitors allowed at home, from 5 to 10, not including children 12 and under.
The cap on outdoor gatherings will be increased from 20 to 30 people, and the cap on weddings and funerals will be increased from 50 to 100 people.
Indoor swimming pools will also be open for lap swimming, rehabilitation, and children’s swimming lessons.
Workers in regional areas will also be allowed back to work if they have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination but will be expected to receive their second dose by Nov. 1. This includes regional areas outside of the Blue Mountains, Wollongong, Shellharbour, and the Central Coast
At 80 percent double dose vaccination, the changes will see more caps increased. Families will be able to invite up to 20 people to their homes, excluding children under 12, and up to 50 people will be allowed to gather outdoors.
The number of people allowed to attend ticketed outdoor events will be increased from 500 to 3,000, and nightclubs will be allowed to reopen for seated drinking only.
Masks will also no longer be required in office buildings at this point.
In addition, all students will now return to classrooms by Oct. 25, as the previous plan for a staggered return of students—spread between stages two and three—will now be combined.
Kindergarten, Year 1, and Year 12 students will still return to face-to-face learning on Oct. 18, and all other years will now return at the same time on Oct. 25.
This comes as students in rural NSW have already returned back to school.
Perrottet said these “common-sense changes” would help communities return to a normal life as soon as possible.
“We have always said that vaccination is the key to our freedom and the sacrifices and the effort of people right across NSW have ensured that we can open up as quickly and safely as possible,” Perrottet said. “This is not just a health crisis, it’s an economic crisis too.”
Newly-selected Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the tweaks to the vaccination requirements for regional workers was to ensure businesses and local economies in the regions reopen and start “buzzing again.”
“This is important because what we are focused on is keeping our communities safe, but also opening up NSW,” Toole said.
State Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said schools were ready to welcome their students back in COVID-safe settings according to official guidelines. Mandatory vaccinations for teachers remain.
“So we are ready, we are excited, we can’t wait to have our kids back, and I’m just delighted that that will now be from the 25th of October,” Mitchell said.
Meanwhile, lockdowns have been extended in Oberon, Snowy Monaro, and Menindee and Sunset Strip in the Central Darling Shire of regional NSW until Oct. 11.