By TILEAH DOBSON
NSW has continued to march towards its vaccination goals, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian announcing 11 October as the date for lockdown restrictions starting to ease.
“Pleasingly, we’ve officially passed the 85 per cent first dose vaccination in NSW. Our double dose has been confirmed now at 60 per cent. We are literally just a few weeks from [reaching 70 per cent],” Ms Berejiklian said at this morning’s press conference.
Once 70 per cent of people aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated, five people will be allowed to visit private homes homes; pubs and restaurants will open for seated service only; and hair and beauty salons will restart with a cap of five patrons.
With the 70 per cent goal in sight, today’s press conference highlighted new freedoms for the next big goal of 80 per cent double dose – the point at which people are considered fully vaccinated.
Travelling freely throughout the state will be allowed; drinking while standing up in pubs will be allowed under the one person per 4 square meter rule indoors, and one person per 2 square meters outdoors; and restrictions on people attending weddings, funerals, hairdressers and beauty salons will be removed.
Community sports will also be allowed to resume; caravan parks and camping grounds will re-open; and carpooling will be sanctioned.
Up to 10 visitors will be allowed in private homes, not including those under 12-years-old, along with 20 people in outdoor settings.
Events will be permitted to have 200 people under Covid-safe provisions, whilst 500 will be allowed at controlled, ticketed events.
While most freedoms will only apply to those who have been fully vaccinated, the premier announced today that residents who are unvaccinated will be allowed to attend places of worship once the 80 per cent target has been met.
Other restrictions, however, will only ease for the unvaccinated from 1 December – several weeks after the 80 per cent target is expected to have been reached.
“If you are not vaccinated, you will have to wait at least four or five weeks after we’ve already hit the 80 per cent double dose rate in order to participate in things that the rest of us can participate in,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Ms Berejiklian also confirmed that businesses must turn away unvaccinated customers until 1 December.
“After that 1 December date, it will really be up to the businesses as to what decisions they take but certainly government has provided certainty now for businesses,” Berejiklian said.
Some businesses – such as clothing and Manchester retailer Best & Less – have already confirmed that they will be refusing customers who are unvaccinated.
A memo was sent out last week to all staff members, which was then leaked to social media. Best & Less Head of Retail Operations, Joseph van Dyke outlined in an email that NSW customers “will need to be fully vaccinated to shop in our stores”.
Best & Less has flagged 18 October as a potential reopening date for their stores, although noted it could be earlier based on vaccination rates.
Today’s new roadmap for 80 per cent double dose vaccinations comes after NSW recorded 787 new Covid-19 cases and 12 deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
Meanwhile, from today, Greater Sydney can enjoy a new recreational freedom, with public outdoor pools open for recreational and lap swimming with a two-hour visit limit.
Controversially, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people will be allowed to attend outdoor pools.
Dr Jeremy McAnulty, Director of Health Protection at NSW Health, defended the decision, stating: “Outdoor pools are outdoors and by the nature of that, that’s a much lower risk of transmission of Covid than indoors.”
Tileah Dobson is the news editor of the Sydney Sentinel.
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