Premier announces new ‘freedoms’, despite rising cases

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. File photo.

By DAMIEN NOVAK

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced several new ‘freedoms’ for millions of Sydneysiders, despite rising Covid-19 case numbers, as the proportion of people fully vaccinated against the virus grows.

From Monday, 13 September, five people will be able to gather outdoors if fully vaccinated, unless they live in one of the 12 LGAs of concern, the premier said.

Meanwhile, within the LGAs of concern, residents will be able to go out for an hour of recreation, on top of the allowed hour of exercise – again, if fully vaccinated.

Other changes to the public health orders will allow small funeral services to be held in the LGAs of concern, listing house inspections as a reasonable excuse to leave home, and changes to singles bubble arrangements, allowing residents living alone to change their nominated visitor.

The new freedoms, which have been widely touted for several days, were in response to NSW reaching a vaccination milestone, with the state surpassing six million vaccinations on Tuesday.

Speaking at today’s daily Covid-19 briefing, the premier said a record 136,000 people were vaccinated yesterday, bringing the state’s total to over 6.2 million.

33 per cent of the population of NSW is now fully vaccinated, while 62 per cent have received their first dose.

Daily case numbers breach 1K

Amidst the good news on vaccinations came the revelation that NSW had reached a new high point in terms of daily Covid cases, with the numbers topping 1000 for the first time.

A record 1,029 people tested positive to the virus in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, while a further three deaths were reported: men aged in their 30s, 60s and 80s, respectively. All three were unvaccinated, the premier said.

At least 61 of the new cases were infectious in the community, while the isolation status of 844 infections is under investigation.

A total of 698 people are now in NSW hospitals with Covid-19, 116 of whom are in ICU. Of those in ICU, NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said: “The vast majority are not vaccinated.” 

In light of the new infections, a rising proportion of which are in regional NSW, Ms Berejiklian extended the regional NSW lockdown to “at least” midnight on Friday, 10 September.

‘70 per cent vaccinated by mid-October’

The premier said that despite the rising case numbers, the state was on track to cautiously opening back up in mid-October, by which time NSW was expected to have reached the milestone of 70 per cent fully vaccinated.

Ms Berejiklian called on business and industry leaders to prepare for the changes, telling bosses to “dust off Covid safety plans” and “get the QR codes in check”.

A roadmap with further details about re-opening would be make public within the next fortnight, she said.

As with the other announced freedoms, participation in workplaces would be contingent on vaccination.

“I am urging everybody to come forward and get vaccinated,” Ms Berejiklian said.

For information on Covid vaccination in NSW, including bookings and the location of walk-in clinics, visit www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/health-and-wellbeing/covid-19-vaccination-nsw/get-your-covid-19-vaccination-nsw.

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