Newly freed Sydneysiders will have to wait another two weeks before hitting the road, with holidays to regional New South Wales unable to go ahead due to sluggish Covid vaccination rates in country communities.
Although the state is set to smash the 80 per cent milestone by this weekend, which should trigger freedom of travel between Sydney and regional areas on Monday as part of the state government’s own roadmap, the date is expected to be pushed back until October 25.
Dominic Perrottet’s crisis cabinet are set to discuss delaying regional holidays at the upcoming meeting, with health officials and policy makers concerned about the low take up of vaccinations in many popular travel hot spots.
Newly freed Sydneysiders will have to wait another two weeks before hitting the road, with holidays to regional New South Wales unable to go ahead due to sluggish Covid vaccination rates in country communities. Pictured: Byron Bay in Northern NSW
Regional travel is unlikely to recommence until October 25. Pictured: Huskisson on the NSW South Coast
The premier hinted that the original October 25 date flagged to usher in a new wave of eased restrictions, is likely to remain even if the 80 per cent target is eclipsed earlier.
‘We have a road map that is set out at 70 per cent, 80 per cent and then December 1, but from time to time we may have to tweak that road map,’ he said on Tuesday.
At the forefront of concerns are popular travel destinations like Byron Bay and the Hunter Valley vineyards where jab rates are lagging.
While NSW has achieved 75 per cent coverage, the Byron Shire in Northern NSW sits at just 47 per cent.
In the town of Cessnock – gateway to the Hunter Valley’s stunning wine region – just 58.4 per cent of residents aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated.
Coffs Harbour and Kempsey on the north and mid-north coast are also at 58 per cent, while Inverell in the Northern Tablelands and Junee in the Riverina have only managed 57 per cent coverage.
Dominic Perrottet’s (pictured) crisis cabinet are set to discuss delaying regional holidays at the upcoming meeting,
Sydneysiders poured into pubs on Freedom Day after 106 days trapped in Covid lockdown
While NSW has achieved 75 per cent coverage, the Byron Shire in Northern NSW sits at just 47 per cent. Pictured: Wategoes beach at Byron Bay
But while holidays may be off the agenda for now, a raft of new freedoms are set to introduced very soon.
Leaked figures from NSW Health show the state’s double-dose vaccination rate jumped by 1.26 per cent overnight to 75.23 per cent, Channel Nine reporter Chris O’Keefe tweeted.
The increase means the state will likely hit the 80 per cent full vaccination rate before Sunday – triggering the next round of restriction easing a week early that scheduled.
NSW’s roadmap out of lockdown allows up to 20 fully-vaccinated residents to gather in homes and participate in community sport at an 80 per cent double-jab rate.
Up to 3,000 spectators will also be allowed to gather for ticketed outdoor events and nightclubs can re-open without dancing.
The revelation comes as the state recorded 360 new local Covid-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday, as well as five deaths.
NSW is on track to hit the 80 per cent Covid vaccination milestone this weekend – triggering the reopening of nightclubs and allowing fans back into stadiums. Pictured are Sydney pubgoers enjoying their first hours of freedom on Monday
Regional travel in NSW could be allowed again from Monday as the state inches closer to an 80 per cent double-dose vaccination rate. Pictured is a surfer at Byron Bay
A day after the state began to emerge from a near four-month lockdown, Premier Perrottet and Treasurer Matt Kean on Tuesday announced an economic recovery package to support business.
Shops, gyms, cafes and hair salons were on Monday overrun as fully-vaccinated patrons responded to weeks of pent-up demand, and as people ventured more than five kilometres from home.
While authorities and business owners were nervous about potential conflict because unvaccinated people are currently denied entry and in-venue service, most in NSW were on their best behaviour.
Mr Perrottet said Tuesday’s announcement was ‘all about confidence’.
‘Last year, as we came through the pandemic, business confidence was key – was crucial – to driving economic growth, to ensuring that businesses continued to employ and bring people on,’ he said.
Nightclubs in NSW are slated to open without dancing at an 80 per cent double-dose vaccination rate – which is set to be reached as early as this weekend
Eligible businesses with an annual turnover between $75,000 and $50 million will be able to apply for a grant of up to $20,000 to compensate for loss of perishable stock, or claim $10,000 for reduced capacity to sell non-perishable items, if they are impacted by a lockdown.
‘As we head into the summer months and Christmas trade… businesses can go out and invest in their businesses,’ the premier said.
He insisted any future lockdown would be a last, not first, resort.
The package also includes toll road relief for businesses with an annual wages cost below $1.2 million which don’t qualify for payroll tax.
Those businesses will be able to claim road tolls under the small business fees and charges rebate, increased to $2000.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and Treasurer Matt Kean on Tuesday announced a package to support businesses in the state which have been crippled by lockdown
‘We know that is really going to support tradies,’ he said.
Unlike his predecessor, Mr Perrottet said he had no concerns labelling Monday a ‘Freedom Day’ for the state but reiterated caution.
Despite current limitations – including mask-wearing, social distancing, strict density limits and venue caps – Small Business Minister Damien Tudehope described the mood in NSW as one of elation.
Revised roadmap to freedom: All the changes for fully vaccinated NSW residents after hitting 70% jab target
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s revised freedom plan will kick off on Monday, October 11
Gatherings in the home and public spaces
· Up to ten visitors will be allowed in a home where all adults are vaccinated (not including children 12 and under).
· Up to 30 people can gather in outdoor settings.
Venues including hospitality, retail stores and gyms
· Hospitality venues can reopen subject to one person per 4sqm inside and one person per 2sqm outside, with standing while drinking permitted outside.
· Retail stores can reopen under the one person per 4sqm rule (unvaccinated people will continue to only be able to access critical retail).
· Personal services such as hairdressers and nail salons 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 per cent fixed seated capacity.
· Indoor swimming pools open for lessons, squad training, lap swimming and rehab activities only
Weddings, funerals and places of worship
· Up to 100 guests can attend weddings, with dancing permitted and eating and drinking only while seated.
· Up to 100 guests can attend funerals, with eating and drinking while seated.
· For those not fully vaccinated lower caps of 5 and ten apply for weddings and funerals.
· Churches and places of worship to open subject to one person per 4sqm rule, with performers exempt from ban on singing.
· Ten person cap on choirs in places of worship and at religious services, with all performers to be fully vaccinated
· The 5km radius will be dropped but Sydneysiders can only travel within greater Sydney – including the Central Coast, Wollongong and Blue Mountains.
· Caravan parks and camping grounds can open.
· Carpooling will be permitted.
Non-vaccinated young people aged under 16 will be able to access all outdoor settings but will only be able to visit indoor venues with members of their household.
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.
· 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.