People in NSW under tough COVID restrictions will soon be able to gather outside in groups of five – if they are fully vaccinated.
That’s right, outdoor social gatherings are the one ‘special thing’ that NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been promising once the state hits its six million jabs target in August.
The premier announced this morning in her 11am press conference that the new, measures would be brought in on 13 September.
The rules are slightly different for people within LGAs of concern to those for people residing outside of them.
People in NSW who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 outside the LGAs of concern will be able to gather outdoors in groups of up to five people – including children, who don’t need to be vaccinated – inside all the individual’s LGA or within 5kms from their home.
For those who live within the LGAs of concern, households with all adults fully vaccinated will be able to gather outdoors for recreation – including picnics – within existing rules.
This means that gatherings will be allowed outside for one hour a day only, outside of the curfew times, and within 5km of home. This is in addition to the one hour allowed for exercise.
Masks will still remain compulsory for the new measures.
At the start of the month, when the state doubled down on its vaccine drive, the premier set a target of six million jabs by the end of the month and, if we hit that, that there would be special freedoms for those who are vaccinated.
NSW has already smashed the six million does target and has currently delivered 6.2 million doses of the vaccine since February 2021. The state looks set to deliver a rough total of 2.5 million doses this month alone.
The new measures come as state COVID cases are on the rise. The state recorded 1029 cases in the 24 hour period to 8pm last night and three deaths.
Experts have warned the premier to abandon her plans of allowing freedoms for vaccinated people as this is likely to increase the transmission of the disease.
The premier also spoke of greater freedoms being opened up slowly as the vaccine rates increase – and that that could happen sooner than expected.
“If we continue to sprint towards vaccination, we expect that 70 per cent double-dose figure to arrive sometime in October,” she said.
“It could be as early as the first couple of weeks of October, depending on how quickly we get ourselves vaccinated. We’re doing better than expected”.
The new rules are thought to be something of a testing ground for relaxed restrictions for vaccinated people and a trial run of the federal government’s strategy in opening up the country as vaccination rates hit 70 and 80 per cent of the eligible population.
Australia’s federal policy is still to keep case numbers as low as possible, ideally at zero, however NSW has explicitly shifted its focus away from low case numbers and toward high vaccination rates while trying to keep hospitals from being overrun.