The NSW Government has this morning revealed what it's calling its “roadmap to freedom” for when the state hits a 70 per cent vaccination rate. The news came as the state recorded 1405 new cases. And it comes with a big caveat: the freedoms are available only to those who have been double vaccinated or have a medical exemption.
"You have been warned," said NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian.
Berejiklian contradicted widespread media reports that claimed we would reopen on October 18, and said no date has been confirmed. Relaxing of restrictions will be triggered the Monday after the state hits that 70 per cent double-dose target.
When restrictions ease, up to five visitors (not including children) will be allowed in homes where all adults are vaccinated, while up to 20 people will be able to gather outside. Hospitality venues will be allowed to reopen, with one person per four square metres allowed inside and one person per two square metres outside. Bonus: drinking while standing will be allowed outside.
Retail stores will be able to reopen, with the four-square-metre rule; the unvaccinated will only be able to access critical retail – essentially, the same retail that's open during lockdown. Hairdressers, nail salons and other similar businesses will reopen with the four square-metre rule, capped at five people per premises. And gyms and "indoor recreation facilities" can reopen with the four-square-metre rule, and classes of up to 20 people. Swimming pools will also reopen.
Stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos will open, with a four-square-metre rule and a cap of 5000 people. And 500 people will be able to attend ticketed and seated outdoor events. Cinemas, theatres, music halls, museums and galleries can also reopen, with the four-square-metre rule, or 75 per cent seated capacity.
Weddings and funeral capacities will also rise – 50 guests will be allowed at weddings (dancing will be permitted, but eating and drinking must happen while seated) and 50 guests at funerals. Places of worship will also reopen with the four-square-metre rule – but no singing.
Domestic travel will also be back on, caravan parks and camping grounds will reopen, and carpooling can happen again.
Those under 16 who have not been vaccinated will be allowed in all outdoor settings, but can only attend indoor venues with a member of their household. And employers must let employees continue to work from home where practical.
And don't throw out your mask just yet – they'll remain mandatory for all indoor public venues, including public transport, front-of-house hospitality, retail and business premises, on planes and at airports. Hospo staff will also need to wear masks outdoors; children under 12 won't need to wear masks indoors.
Further restrictions are set to ease when we hit 80 per cent double vaccinated. They're likely to include international travel, community sport and major events.
It's not all set in stone, though – if there are concentrated outbreaks, towns, LGAs and cities can still have restrictions placed on their movements. They'll be allowed to do all of the above, but only in their area.
But in great news for parts of regional NSW – including the north coast, much of the central west and south-west – lockdowns will be lifted at 12.01am on September 11. They will be subject to the restrictions outlined in the above roadmap.
Keep up to date with NSW's Covid-19 restrictions here.