The much anticipated re-opening of retail and hospitality in NSW is set to happen within weeks when the state passes its 70% double vaccination target, under the roadmap to freedom released today.
Retail and shopping centres across NSW, Victoria and the ACT have been subjected to extended lockdowns crippling many industries and small business. The announcement today brings hope for a promising Christmas period as customers flock back in to bricks-and-mortar stores, shopping centres and the community enjoy hospitality and pub venues. However, the complete re-opening relies heavily upon high vaccination rates and lower cases, bringing some hesitation that the return to complete normality is still some time away.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said we are well on the way to hitting the 70% double dose milestone which will allow the state to open up for those who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Only fully vaccinated people and those with medical exemptions will have access to the freedoms allowed under the Reopening NSW roadmap.
Important freedoms will include hospitality venues can reopen subject to one person per 4m2 inside and one person per 2m2 outside, with standing while drinking permitted outside and retail stores can reopen under the one person per 4m2 rule. Unvaccinated people will continue to only be able to access essential retail. 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.
“I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to get vaccinated – if you have not had both doses of the vaccine by the time we hit the 70% milestone, you will not be able to take advantage of these freedoms,” Berejiklian said.
Stay-at-home orders for adults who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be lifted from the Monday after the state reaches the target. It is anticipated this date will be achieved in mid-October. 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.
Some of the other freedoms announced include up to five visitors will be allowed in a home where all adults are vaccinated (not including children 12 and under) and up to 20 people in outdoor settings.
Personal services such as hairdressers and nail salons can open with one person per 4m2 capped at five clients per premises. Gyms and indoor recreation facilities can open under the one person per 4m2 rule and can offer classes for up to 20 people.
Domestic travel, including trips to regional NSW, will be permitted while interstate travel will await decisions by other state and territory governments. Employers must continue to allow employees to work from home if the employee is able to do so.
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.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the easing of restrictions would come as a huge relief to struggling businesses and workers, who just want to get their lives back on track, safely. He said, “This roadmap gives us the light at the end of the tunnel we all want and will enable our economy to start firing again, driving our state back to prosperity”.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the government will continue to be guided by the health advice, and may still require targeted restrictions to deal with outbreaks.
“As we work toward reopening NSW, it is vital people continue to come forward and get vaccinated to help protect the community and reduce transmission of the virus,” Hazzard said.
When NSW hits the 80% double dose target, the government intends to open up further freedoms around international travel, community sport, major events and other areas.