There has been excitement, confusion and huge delays for hair appointments as New South Wales enjoys its first day of freedom in 106 days.
But demand for services and concerns over Covid regulations are not putting a dampener on Sydney’s Freedom Day revellers, and neither is the wet weather.
After being locked down for most of winter and half of spring, Sydneysiders are out and about and enjoying their first taste of freedom in months.
But there are some difficulties. Unless you’ve got a booking, you may not be able to get your hair cut any time soon, with hairdressers doing split shifts to cope with the demand.
Celebrity hairdresser Joh Bailey is delighted to be back at work in his Double Bay premises in Sydney
‘We started taking bookings last week and we’re sort of booked out from now to forever,’ celebrity hairdresser Joh Bailey told Daily Mail Australia with a laugh.
‘I’m thrilled and pumped and we’re so ready to go. It’s actually quite surreal after 106 days,’ he said from his business in Sydney’s glitzy Double Bay.
Joh Bailey Hairdessing Salon at Double Bay gets a Covid-9 deep clean
Mr Bailey has keenly studied his customer base during lockdown. ‘Being in grocery stores over the last few months, I’ve seen so many, sort of, needy hairs.
‘Colours that need doing, ends that need trimming. I felt the same way, I had my hair cut this morning. I hadn’t had my hair cut either, it was wild,’ he said.
Getting hair colours touched up has been the most popular on Monday, and Mr Bailey said his loyal customers are ‘thrilled’ to be able to get back to his business.
Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese drinks a beer during the reopening of Willie the Boatman craft brewery in St Peters, Sydney as the city reopens to those who are fully vaccinated
Thirsty work. Pubs are finally open again after a lockdown that last most of winter and half of spring
He and his staff are doing split shifts, starting at 6.30am and going until 8pm, a regime enforced by the reduced number of people allowed on the premises.
Having two floors to work with helps, so he’s got five customers upstairs and five downstairs.
‘The difficulty is normally when we are working on a client, the next one is getting shampooed, but now we have to shampoo them and do the whole service, wait for them to walk out and then leave another one in. That’s why I’m doing extended hours, to fit everyone in.’
Nearby cafe owner Julian Levin said he felt both ‘pretty excited and a little bit anxious about what’s going to happen in terms of the double vaccination certificate and proofs so people can sit down’. He said there is some confusion about exactly what to do.
Cafe owner Julian Levin says there is some confusion about the rules around vaccination
‘But mostly I’m excited for the Freedom Day. Everyone’s in a good mood and that makes it even easier for us. We’ve been going since 6 o’clock this morning. Everyone’s super excited to be able to sit down (in a cafe). It has been a good response from customers,’ he said.
The nail salon
‘We’ve had a lot of people calling up. We’ve had some requests (for people to be seen who are not fully vaccinated). But we’ve already posted a lot about us requiring (customers) to be double vaxxed. That is the law.
‘If anyone is not double-vaxxed, unfortunately we do have to send them away.’
Vivienne of USA Nails in Double Bay says some people who are not fully vaccinated have tried to make bookings but were turned down
Customers queue to arrange bookings at USA Nails in Sydney
Friends Bella and Sarah were queueing for coffee and happy to wait a few minutes, having already waited months. ‘We’re excited for everything to get back to normality. It’s good to see everyone out and the businesses doing well,’ said Bella.
Bella and Sarah are about to start their HSC exams and are enjoying a break from study
‘We’re year 12 students, we’ve had it a bit tough. We’re trying to make the most of everything while HSC is also on,’ said Sarah.
Bella added that ‘we’re almost at the finish line’. She meant the HSC, but most of NSW surely feel the same about getting close to the finish line of Covid.
In Kmart at Broadway in Sydney, customers were enjoying the freedom to shop in person they had waited so long for.
‘It’s fantastic, it’s nice to feel that you’re living your normal life again, not restricted in your own house or in your own LGA,’ said Lacee.
‘It’s quite amazing to have the freedom to be able to do what you want, whenever you want.’
Lacee (pictured with her daughter Kahlani) is shopping for Christmas as well as getting essentials
Lacee is a mum of three and says her girls have grown so much in the lockdown months that ‘none of their clothes fit them’ anymore.
‘The ability to go out and grab what they need straight away is amazing. First stop is Kmart, for the essentials.’
Lacee was also shopping for Christmas because she’s heard there could be shortages.
Another customer, Maya Urquhart was expecting it to be busier. ‘It feels very weird to be back here, with everyone around. But everyone seems to be a lot calmer, very polite, keeping a distance.’
She said the queue to get into the shop was smooth and well run. ‘It’s a very good process, easy to get in. There’s two people at the door, keeping everyone safe, which is good..
Maya Urquhart found some bargains on her Freedom Day shopping at Kmart
Ms Urquhart was also shopping for Christmas and found some bargains. ‘They have reduced prices of the things they’re trying to get out before new stock comes in. I got a T-shirt for a dollar, cheap than a cup of coffee.’
Rosie also said she was pleased to be able to shop in person. ‘I’ve had a bit of a hiatus from buying crap that you always thought you needed but don’t really need.
Rosie is pleased to finally be able to shop in person again
‘I have a list of things I wanted to get, but I’m actually getting other stuff that I didn’t know I needed until I started looking. It’s just great being able to walk around,’ she said.
Lachlan Filmer was as happy as anyone to be able to move around freely. ‘The city is pretty much my happy place to be at,’ he said. He was buying Lego toys from a Disney+ show in Kmart and planned to go the Lego store after that.
Lachlan Filmer says ‘The city is pretty much my happy place to be at’
‘Then I’m going to see a movie, Space Jam: A New Legacy. The reviews have been quite bad, so I’m just going to see how bad it is really,’ he said.
Sydney University medical student Maleeha is a big fan of Kmart and was happy to be able to shop there again with her friends, buying towels, a kettle and a teapot.
Sydney University medical student Maleeha (pictured right) and her friends are big fans of Kmart
‘We live in student accommodation and it’s been pretty rough living locked up with everyone over the last four months. I think we’re just itching to get outside.
‘I’m kind of addicted to Kmart. I used to run to Kmart as therapy before lockdown. I’m very excited to be here.’
A customer enjoys an eye brow appointment at Westfield Warringah Mall on Sydney’s northern beaches as the city reopens having reached a 70 per cent fully vaccinated rate
Customers queue to enter the Big W store at Warringah Mall in the Sydney suburb of Brookvale
Midnight shoppers at Kmart, queues in the rain for a beer and late-night salon trips: NSW bursts out of hated 106-day lockdown in spectacular fashion – here are all the new rules from today
By Levi Parsons
Millions in New South Wales have woken up to their first day of freedom after 106 gruelling days in coronavirus lockdown, with pubs, restaurants, hair salons, shops and gyms finally flinging open their doors.
The beleaguered state shattered its 70 per cent Covid-19 vaccination target for over-16s last week, opening the door for most businesses to return to trade on Monday at 12.01am.
Friends and family cut off by the 5km bubble will also be reunited at long last, with up to ten visitors allowed in homes – and 30 able to meet up outdoors.
Many were so keen to thrown off the shackles of lockdown that they queued in the rain across Sydney on Sunday night to get a first taste of freedom – be that a cold beer in the pub, a fresh haircut at the salon or even some bargain shopping at Kmart.
Kmart stores in Blacktown and Mt Druitt saw dozens of shoppers queueing before midnight in lines which snaked 50m from the entrance, while revellers in the city’s pubs were greeted with champagne at the door.
Hairdresser Alan Buki is seen at his salon in Sydney’s Paddington tending to an eager client early on Monday morning (pictured), having decided to open at midnight due to overwhelming demand
With only double-dosed residents allowed to enter non-essential venues in NSW, police set up a late-night roadblock along Parramatta Road as well as other main routes into the city to prevent unvaccinated lockdown rule breakers from heading into the CBD to join the festivities.
It’s been a particularly miserable three and half months for the coronavirus-ravaged Harbour City with residents subject to harsh restrictions including the 5km travel bubble and even curfews in parts of the heavy-hit west.
But with horror winter months in the rear view mirror and the state prepared to ‘live with the virus’, it’s now party time once again.
A staff member at Sydney’s Tattersalls club in the CBD even welcomed patrons inside by popping a champagne bottle as the clock struck midnight.
Ecstatic revellers had smiles from ear to ear as they rushed inside, proudly flashing their digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate at the door to gain entry.
In the west, dozens of excited locals arrived en masse at Canterbury Leagues Club with huge lines sprawling way out into the parking lot.
Back in inner city Paddington, demand was so high for Alan Buki’s salon that he too opted to open at midnight, welcoming in a string of patrons ready for a fresh cut.
Newly-appointed premier Dominic Perrottet said on Sunday that after the trauma of the past three and a half months his government will do ‘everything in its power’ to avoid another lockdown.
But as droves of eager fully-vaccinated citizens flock to restaurants, pubs, cafes, gyms, retails stores, events and the sorely missed hairdressers, many in the medical community are warning that NSW is not ‘out of the woods yet’ and that the reopening could be a situation where it’s ‘one step forward, two steps back’.
Face masks are no longer mandatory outdoors, with the exception of hospitality workers actively serving customers, but still must be worn inside except when eating or drinking.
Double-jabbed residents will now be able to venture more than 5km from their home with Sydneysiders able to travel and even holiday anywhere across the Harbour City and even as far as the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, or Shellharbour.
Those outside of Sydney are also free to move about but intrastate travel is still off the cards between regional areas and Sydney until the state reaches the 80 per cent fully-vaccinated rate.
Under the eased restrictions, ten double-dosed visitors are now allowed in the home with 30 permitted to gather outdoors.
Ousted state leader Gladys Berejiklian’s original roadmap had previously set the cap at five indoors and 20 outside, however just 24 hours after being sworn into office Mr Perrottet made the call to increase the capacity limits.
He also doubled the number of vaccinated guests permitted to attend weddings and funerals with 100 people able to take part in the ceremony, but they must remain seated when eating and drinking.
Gyms, cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars, non-essential retail, libraries and churches can operate under the one person per 4sqm rule but nightclubs will remain closed.
Hairdressers and beauticians can also welcome back vaccinated clients but are restricted to a maximum of five in the premises at one time.
Gyms can open with up to 20 clients per class, while stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos can have up to 5,000 visitors.
Indoor entertainment facilities such as cinemas, theatres, music halls, museums and galleries can reopen with one person per 4sqm or 75 per cent fixed seated capacity.
Further restrictions will be eased later this month once NSW hits 80 per cent vaccination, before freedoms open up to the unvaccinated from December 1.
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