Hold onto your dressing gowns, NSW is getting ready to leave lockdown.
Parts of regional NSW will have restrictions lifted today, September 9, as NSW edges closer to the 70% vaccination target, expected to be reached in roughly six weeks.
This is part of a lockdown road-map, agreed upon by the state’s crisis cabinet meeting on Wednesday afternoon, that will see the state work its way out of the lockdown restrictions that have been in place since June.
Restrictions are set to lift the Monday after vaccination rates hit 70%, with the Premier stressing that there is no fixed date set for lockdown lifting.
ROADMAP TO FREEDOM UNVEILED FOR THE FULLY VACCINATED pic.twitter.com/oHVzfM6rsC
— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) September 9, 2021
“This road-map is conditional”, the Premier said.
“I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to get vaccinated — if you have not had both doses of the vaccine by the time we hit the 70% milestone, you will not be able to take advantage of these freedoms.”
Gyms, hairdressers, restaurants, cafes and pubs will reopen at reduced capacities in select areas when those vaccination rates are reached.
Schools will return on the provisional date of October 25 when it is assumed that vaccination rates will be 70% or higher.
“It is really important for school communities, for students and teachers to have a fixed date they open to provide certainty,” the Premier said.
“But for adults, we have the capacity to be more flexible and make sure that that date of starting the reopening isn’t triggered until there is 70% double dose vaccination.”
Regions will be opened up on a rolling basis. Deputy Premier John Barillaro said that the Riverina, New England, and the North Coast will have restrictions lifted today.
However, Shellharbour, Kiama, Bega and Wingecarribee shire will remain in lockdown along with an additional 35 regional LGAs.
In Sydney, where cases are concentrated, the first stage of the road-map is set to be implemented around October 14. The government will trial venue openings in places with high vaccination rates and low case numbers first, including the Northern Beaches, the Hills Shire, and the Blue Mountains.
When those targets are hit, gatherings will once again be announced. Up to five visitors will be allowed in a home where all adults are vaccinated and up to 20 people can gather in outdoor settings.
Domestic travel, including trips to regional NSW, will be permitted. Caravan parks and camping grounds will also reopen.
The move is part of the NSW government strategy to learn to live with the virus, as case numbers continue to climb, and not everyone is happy about it
Berejiklian and other senior ministers reportedly “overruled” health officials who advised that the state not reopen until vaccination rates were closer to 85%.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant advised the crisis cabinet on Wednesday that the state should aim for a vaccination rate closer to 80-85%.
Taking a more cautious approach would reduce the likelihood of the state re-entering lockdown after reopening.
While greater freedoms will be granted when we hit the 70% vaccination target, restrictions are set to ease even further before December once NSW hits its 80% target.
The plan is based on modelling from the Doherty Institute and is consistent with the federal government’s national four-phase plan to reopen Australia.
Restrictions on venues will be similar to what we have seen previously with capacity limits on venues, limiting one person to four square metres inside venues, social distancing, mask-wearing, and check-ins.
The premier also gave information as to how venues will be able to allow vaccinated people into their venues. QR codes on the NSW check-in app will be linked to vaccination status and will not allow patrons into places if they do not receive a green tick on their screens.
NSW reported 1405 new local coronavirus cases and five deaths on Thursday.