After months of strict lockdown across New South Wales to contain its Delta covid outbreak, the Berejiklian government has released details of the first significant freedoms that fully vaccinated citizens will enjoy.
In its roadmap to reopening unveiled on Thursday, eased restrictions for gathering, movement, retail and hospitality have emerged as the most significant changes that will come into effect when the state achieves 70% double dose vaccinations.
Crucially, premier Gladys Berejiklian has stressed only double-vaccinated residents will enjoy greater freedoms under the reopening. NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet has said “It has been a difficult winter but it will be a bright summer” once vaccination target is achieved.
This roadmap applies to greater Sydney and parts of the state that are still under stay at home orders. Parts of regional NSW which have not had a Covid case in the last 14 days will be deemed low risk and will emerge from lockdown from Saturday 11 September. This is unrelated to a vaccination target.
Here’s everything you need to know about NSW’s “road to freedom” as it is being called.
When will the lockdown end?
Stay at home orders for adults who have received both doses of Covid-19 vaccine will be lifted from the Monday after NSW achieves the 70% double-dose vaccination target.
Estimates predict NSW will reach 70% double dose vaccination (of over-16s) by about 19 October, based on data from the seven-day average. If this is the date the target is reached, it is a Tuesday, so under the plan announced, the freedoms would come into effect six days later, on the following Monday 25 October.
However on Thursday, Berejiklian warned NSW’s high vaccination rate had begun to show signs of slowing.
What will fully vaccinated people be allowed to do?
There’s a substantial list of freedoms on the horizon.
Gatherings: Going to visit other people inside their homes will be allowed, of up to five visitors, but all adults in the household have to be fully vaccinated. Children under 12 won’t be counted towards that limit.
Outdoors, up to 20 people will be allowed to gather. This is an increase from the limit of five fully-vaccinated people allowed to gather outside as part of the six-million dose freedom that was announced two weeks ago and will come into effect from 13 September.
Hospitality: Pubs, restaurants and cafes will be allowed to reopen with the one person per 4sqm rule indoors, and one person per 2sqm rule for outdoors.
Retail stores can reopen under the one person per 4sqm rule (unvaccinated people will continue to only be able to access critical retail).
Hairdressers and nail salons, as well as other personal services, can open with one person per 4sqm, capped at five clients per premises.
Gyms and indoor recreation facilities can open under the one person per 4sqm rule and can offer classes for up to 20 people.
Sporting facilities including swimming pools can reopen.
Stadiums, theatres and major outdoor recreation facilities: Major recreation outdoor facilities including stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos can reopen with one person per 4sqm, capped at 5,000 people. Up to 500 people can attend ticketed and seated outdoor events.
Indoor entertainment and information facilities including cinemas, theatres, music halls, museums and galleries can reopen with one person per 4sqm or 75% fixed seated capacity.
Weddings, funerals and places of worship will also reopen. Up to 50 guests can attend weddings, with dancing permitted and eating and drinking only while seated. Up to 50 guests can attend funerals, with eating and drinking while seated. Churches and places of worship to open subject to one person per 4sqm rule, with no singing.
How will I prove I’m vaccinated?
The NSW government has said it will incorporate vaccination proof into the Services NSW smartphone application, which is the same app used to check into venues. You will still need to check into venues when you are fully vaccinated.
How long after receiving my second dose will I be considered full vaccinated?
Right away. Say you had only had one dose by the Monday after the 70% target is reached, but your second dose was booked for the following day, on Tuesday. As soon as you receive your second jab, you’ll no longer have to comply with the stay-at-home orders and can enjoy the freedoms mentioned above.
Will travel around Sydney and around the state be allowed?
Yes. Domestic travel, including trips to regional NSW, will be permitted. Caravan parks and camping grounds can open. Carpooling will be permitted.
Will we have to go back into work?
Employers must continue to allow employees to work from home if the employee is able to do so.
If you work in hospitality, retail or any of the public-facing service businesses that are allowed to reopen, you will have to be fully vaccinated to work.
What happens if you’re not fully vaccinated once the 70% target is reached?
You will still be under existing lockdown restrictions, Berejiklian has insisted. “We can’t afford to have unvaccinated people mixing with vaccinated people,” she said.
What happens if you’re under 16 and aren’t vaccinated?
Those under 16 who aren’t vaccinated will be able to access all outdoor settings but will only be able to visit indoor venues with members of their household.
Will fully vaccinated people still have to wear masks?
Yes, but the outdoor mask mandate will no longer apply to you. Masks will remain mandatory for all indoor public venues, including public transport, front-of-house hospitality, retail and business premises, on planes and at airports.
Only hospitality staff will be required to wear a mask when outdoors. Children aged under 12 will not need to wear a mask indoors.
Will fully vaccinated people who are close contacts of Covid cases still have to isolate?
That’s unclear. The government has said there will be revised guidance on isolation for close and casual contacts who are fully vaccinated, with details to be provided closer to the reopening date.
What will happen for the 12 LGAs and other Covid hotspots? Will fully vaccinated residents there also be let out of lockdown?
This isn’t so clear. Perrottet said there will be times where high case numbers mean there will be targeted restrictions in place for specific areas. Concern.
This could apply for all areas of the state, and the triggers for these types of restrictions have not been made clear.
So does that mean the roadmap plan could change?
Yes. The roadmap is subject to further fine-tuning and health advice if circumstances change drastically or if cases within a designated area remain too high.
What will happen at 80% double dose vaccination?
Freedoms for when 80% double dose vaccination is achieved in NSW have not yet been announced, however Berejiklian has previously said international travel could resume, with a transition towards home quarantine to be underway by that point.