NSW is set to bring forward new freedoms for double-jabbed people by three weeks in response to the state’s speedy vaccination efforts.
State Premier Dominic Perrottet made significant changes to NSW’s roadmap to normal, announcing changes scheduled for 1 December would now take place on 8 November.
Freedoms relaxed restrictions for unvaccinated people that were set to occur on 1 December have been postponed for two weeks, and are now expected to happen when the state reaches the 95 per cent double vaccination target, or 15 December, whichever happens first.
Perrottet said bringing forward the easing of restrictions was only possible because of the state’s high vaccinations rates and the rollout of booster shots.
“Everybody has done an incredible job to ensure NSW can ease restrictions in a safe and considered way earlier than we planned,” he said.
“We are on track to reach 90 per cent double vaccination weeks ahead of schedule, and this is a testament to everybody across NSW and especially our health workers.
“There is still a long way to go but the NSW government is standing with the community and continuing to do everything that we can, including booster shots, to keep people safe as we open up.”
From next Monday, there will be no limit on visitors to a home, no rules for outdoor gatherings with fewer than 1,000 people, and indoor swimming pools will reopen for all purposes.
Businesses will be able to welcome in more fully vaccinated customers with all premises to move to the one-person-per-two-square-metre rule, and nightclubs will be able to reopen dancefloors.
Caps will be removed for settings other than gym and dance classes (where the 20 person cap for classes will remain) and replaced by density limits or 100 per cent fixed seated capacity for major recreation outdoor facilities (including stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos) and entertainment facilities (including cinemas and theatres).
These new freedoms will only be available for people who are fully vaccinated, including those who have medical exemptions and children under the age of 16; however, COVID-safe check-ins and proof of vaccination will still be required.
The current settings for masks, which apply to everyone, will remain in place until the state reaches the 95 per cent double vaccination target, or 15 December, whichever happens first.
Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA)’s NSW chief executive Michael Johnson, said he was particularly happy that businesses will be able to move to the one-person-per-two-square-metre rule.
“This change means our restaurants, bars and conference facilities can begin operating again at a profitable level,” he said.
“Opening at one person for every four square metres, basically 25 per cent capacity, is just not sustainable. This change comes at the perfect time as travel restrictions lift and people begin travelling around the state again.
“When overseas travel was banned and borders closed everyone visited their own backyard and regional travel lead our industry’s recovery. But the front door is now opening and regional destinations will need promotion and support to be able to compete with the international world.
“We are still facing significant labour and skills shortages in CBD and regional hotels, and this will hamper our recovery if we do not address it now.”
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said NSW has amongst the most vaccinated populations in the world and rolling out booster shots would continue to maintain that advantage.
“We are amongst the best in the world when it comes to vaccinations but we cannot forget that COVID will continue to circulate in the community and we must remain vigilant,” Hazzard said.
“Boosters are a key priority moving forward and we continue to work closely with the Commonwealth on the COVID-19 vaccination rollout. I want to encourage anyone who is yet to be vaccinated to make a booking as soon as possible.”
On Monday, NSW became one of the first states to allow fully vaccinated overseas travellers to enter Australia without undergoing quarantine, when the country officially lifted its overseas travel ban for Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families.
From November 21, both NSW and Victoria will begin to welcome back travellers from Singapore without an imposed quarantine period.
Featured image source: Facebook/domperrottetmp