Eight million NSW residents will be free from Covid-19 lockdown when 70 per cent are vaccinated as the state becomes the first in Australia to remove restrictions due to high vaccination rates rather than low case numbers.
After four months of being cooped up in their homes, Sydneysiders will be able to go to pubs, cafes, gyms and hairdressers (with a four-square-metre distancing rule) by proving they are fully vaccinated using the ServiceNSW app.
Up to five visitors will be allowed in a home where all over 16s are fully vaccinated and up to 20 people can gather in outdoor settings.
Stadiums and theatres will re-open with a 5,000-capacity cap and holidays around the state will also be allowed.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there is no set ‘freedom day’ but restrictions will ease the Monday after the 70 per cent jab rate is reached. The most likely date is October 18.
The state recorded 1,405 new Covid-19 cases and six deaths on Thursday. About 75 per cent of NSW residents are vaccinated with one dose and 42 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Pubs will finally open in NSW once 70 per cent of state is vaccinated against Covid-19. Pictured: People at the pub in Sydney in June
What can you do after freedom day?
Only fully vaccinated people and those with medical exemptions will have access to the freedoms allowed under the Reopening NSW roadmap.
The freedoms for vaccinated adults will come into effect on the Monday after NSW hits the 70 per cent double dose target and include:
Gatherings in the home and public spaces:
· Up to five visitors will be allowed in a home where all adults are vaccinated (not including children 12 and under).
· Up to 20 people can gather in outdoor settings.
Venues including hospitality, retail stores and gyms:
· Hospitality venues can reopen subject to one person per 4sqm inside and one person per 2sqm outside, with standing while drinking permitted outside.
· Retail stores can reopen under the one person per 4sqm rule (unvaccinated people will continue to only be able to access critical retail).
· Personal services such as hairdressers and nail salons can open with one person per 4sqm, capped at five clients per premises.
· Gyms and indoor recreation facilities can open under the one person per 4sqm rule and can offer classes for up to 20 people.
· Sporting facilities including swimming pools can reopen.
Stadiums, theatres and major outdoor recreation facilities:
· Major recreation outdoor facilities including stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos can reopen with one person per 4sqm, capped at 5,000 people.
· Up to 500 people can attend ticketed and seated outdoor events.
· Indoor entertainment and information facilities including cinemas, theatres, music halls, museums and galleries can reopen with one person per 4sqm or 75 per cent fixed seated capacity.
Weddings, funerals and places of worship:
· Up to 50 guests can attend weddings, with dancing permitted and eating and drinking only while seated.
· Up to 50 guests can attend funerals, with eating and drinking while seated.
· Churches and places of worship to open subject to one person per 4sqm rule, with no singing.
· Domestic travel, including trips to regional NSW, will be permitted.
· Caravan parks and camping grounds can open.
· Carpooling will be permitted.
Non-vaccinated young people aged under 16 will be able to access all outdoor settings but will only be able to visit indoor venues with members of 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, with details to be provided closer to the reopening date.
· Masks will remain mandatory for all indoor public venues, including public transport, front-of-house hospitality, retail and business premises, on planes and at airports.
· Only hospitality staff will be required to wear a mask when outdoors.
· Children aged under 12 will not need to wear a mask indoors.
Ms Berejiklian said the further freedoms would be granted once 80 per cent are vaccinated, including international travel.
But she warned that some domestic travel restrictions may be needed until then.
‘If there are high rates of disease in a particular location or a sudden surge or outbreak, we have to restrict movements in the communities,’ she said.
‘Your mobility will be restricted within a particular distance. That could happen at any stage. Towns or cities outside of Greater Sydney who haven’t had any outbreaks and experience an outbreak, may have to come under that condition.’
In a cabinet meeting last night, state ministers voted unanimously to ease the rules, despite reports that Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant wanted an 85 per cent double-jab rate before opening.
Eight million NSW residents will most likely be free from Covid-19 lockdown on October 18
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks to the media during a COVID-19 press conference in Sydney on Thursday
But the premier and her ministers overruled the health chiefs, giving the green light for next month’s ‘tentative’ date when vaccination targets are due to reach 70 per cent, The Australian reported.
Under a ‘vaccine passport’ plan, double-dosed residents – including those in the 12 LGAs areas of concern – will be given a wide range of new freedoms, including going to pubs, restaurants and shops.
But those who refuse to get the jab will be ‘left behind’ and remain locked out from reopened venues.
Parts of regional NSW with low Covid case numbers will be freed from lockdown on Friday at 11:59pm.
Dr Chant at Wednesday night’s meeting warned state leaders that if the reopening goes ahead at just 70 per cent coverage, it could lead to a spike in cases and see the state quickly put back into lockdown.
After four months of being cooped up in their homes, Sydneysiders will be able to go to pubs, cafes, gyms and hairdressers (with a four-square-metre distancing rule) by proving they are fully vaccinated using the ServiceNSW app. Pictured is how the app will look
Under plans agreed to during a crisis cabinet meeting on Wednesday, millions in NSW will most likely finally lose the shackles in October – providing the 70 per cent fully-vaccinated target is met (pictured, pub-goers in Sydney’s The Rocks on Anzac Day 2021)
NSW recorded one of the deadliest days of the pandemic on Wednesday with nine fatalities – including a man in his 20s – and a further 1,480 new cases.
The chief health officer argued that reopening with such high case numbers could have a significant impact on the state’s healthcare system and result in increased hospitalisations if vaccination rates aren’t higher.
She pointed to recent examples where highly-vaccinated nations such as Israel and the United Kingdom suffered a surge in new infections immediately after reopening.
But towards the end of the fiery meeting, Dr Chant eventually lent her conditional support to the 70 per cent reopening target, as long as the reproductive rate of the virus drops below one by the time the lockdown is lifted.
An R-rate above one means exponential growth of infection.
The only way the Delta variant outbreak can begin to decline is if the R-rate drops below one, which it has not done since June.
NSW Ministers voted unanimously to release the state from its gruelling Covid lockdown on October 18, in an explosive late-night crisis cabinet meeting on Wednesday (pictured, Frankies nightclub in Sydney on June 1 2020 when the first lockdown ended)
Under the ‘vaccine passport’ plan set to be formally announced on Thursday at 11am, double-dosed residents – including those in the 12 LGAs areas of concern – will be given a wide range of new freedoms (pictured, diners at a Bondi eatery when restrictions eased in June last year)
While the long-awaited date is being dubbed ‘Freedom Day’, there will still be restrictions in place and venues such as nightclubs will not be included in the initial reopening.
Bars, restaurants and shops are set to reopen to double-jabbed customers, with capacity limits such as those seen after the first lockdown eased in June 2020 also likely to apply.
Anyone working in newly-opened industries will have to be fully-vaccinated and the one person per four sq/m rule will likely be in place.
Guests at weddings and funerals will also be capped although the exact details are yet to be revealed.
Those entering a venue must prove their vaccination status by scanning in via QR code using the Service NSW app.
Anyone who has not received the jab will not receive the same freedoms and be refused entry.
Premier Berejiklian on Tuesday hinted that some highly vaccinated suburbs may be released from lockdown earlier than others as part of a trial, sparking debate that wealthy suburbs of Sydney were be favoured over neighbourhoods in the west.
She said the vaccine passport technology currently being developed would need to be tested before being put into use statewide.
‘Where we decide to have any pilots will be up to the health advice,’ she said.
‘Our Service NSW app, which allows people to check in and also indicate that they’re fully-vaccinated, has to be trialled.
Those living in Sydney’s 12 LGAs of concern will also be released from lockdown on October 18 as long as they have been fully-vaccinated (pictured, Bankstown shoppers on Wednesday)
‘We’ll get advice from health as to where the best locations are for that, and I envisage it’ll be a variety of locations to make sure that we get it right by the time we open up.’
Critics have said opening up some areas before others in a trial would sow further division in the already divided city.
The cabinet decided on Wednesday that when a full-reopening happens, not a trial, it will be to all of NSW – regardless of ‘hotspots’.
Fully vaccinated Sydneysiders will finally be able to get a haircut after almost 16 weeks in lockdown
The plan to allow tourists back into the state’s regional and rural areas is expected to give long-suffering business owners a much-needed cash injection.
The earmarked date for when 80 per cent of the NSW population is fully-vaccinated is set for the end of October or the first part of November.
When this benchmark is achieved fully-vaccinated Sydneysiders will be allowed to travel freely through the state with a special travel permit.
The travel permit will be accessed on the Service NSW app, with the deputy premier warning the document will be essential for movement throughout the state.
However, as the NSW Premier has repeatedly warned, unvaccinated residents will miss out on a travel.
Cooped-up double dosed Sydneysiders – including those in the city’s 12 LGAs of concern, will soon be able to pack their bags for a domestic holiday as early as the end of October when vaccination rates hit 80 per cent (pictured, thermal pools in the Snowy Mountains)
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro (pictured) said holiday-hungry residents and those hoping to visit family, will be permitted to travel within their own state as long as vaccination target stay on track
‘Don’t be left behind when we start opening up,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
‘When we open up at 70 per cent double dose, it will be only for those who are vaccinated.
‘There’s time now to get your first dose and fit in your second dose before New South Wales starts opening up. I want to make that message as strong as possible.’
The plan to allow tourists back into the state’s regional and rural areas is expected to give long-suffering business owners a much-needed cash injection (pictured, Sydney Domestic Airport before the recent lockdown)
Several regional areas with low Covid cases including the Mid and North Coast, New England, Riverina and Murrumbidgee (pictured), are on track to emerge from lockdown at 11:59 on Friday after almost a month of living under stay-at-home orders.
Health authorities meanwhile have detected the virus at a sewage treatment plant in Bonny Hills, 23km south of Port Macquarie, despite the area having no known cases.
‘Regional and rural NSW do have a level of anxiety about people leaving Sydney,’ Mr Barilaro acknowledged.
But under the permit system he said police have the ability to stop anyone entering regional areas who is not authorised.
As of Tuesday, NSW vaccination rates are higher than anticipated with more than 75 per cent of the state’s over-16 population having received their first Covid jab.
About 42 per cent have received their second shot, with the state on track to meet the 70 percent target by mid-October if the current trend continues.
On the October 18 date, gym junkies will once again be able to get their fix if they are fully vaccinated (pictured, City Gym in Darlinghurst after the 2020 lockdown ended in Sydney)
What are the four phases of opening up?
A. Vaccinate, prepare and pilot (from July 14)
Arrival caps cut in half to 3,035 a week; early, stringent and short lockdowns if outbreaks occur; trials of seven-day home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals in South Australia; medicare vaccination certificates available on apps like apple wallet
B. Post vaccination phase (when 70 per cent are jabbed, expected late this year)
Lockdowns ‘less likely but possible’; vaccinated people face reduced restrictions; caps for unvaccinated arrivals increased; a larger cap for vaccinated arrivals with ‘reduced quarantine requirements’; capped entry for students and economic visa holders
C. Consolidation phase (when 80 per cent are jabbed, time not announced)
Lifting all restrictions for outbound travel for vaccinated travellers; no caps for vaccinated arrivals; increased caps for students and visa holders; more travel bubbles being set up with countries such as Singapore; booster shots rolled out
D. Final phase (percentage or time not announced)
Uncapped arrivals for vaccinated people without any quarantine and uncapped arrivals for unvaccinated people with testing before departure and on arrival