- September 13, 2021
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The NSW government will soon trial reopening one-on-one industries such as hairdressing for fully vaccinated people to prepare for the easing of most restrictions once inoculation rates reach 70 per cent in mid-October.
Small-scale trials of service industries where both parties are vaccinated will begin in the coming weeks and act as a litmus test for other sectors like hospitality, which could then reopen with capacity limits within two months.
The trials will build on freedoms to kick-in across NSW next month, allowing outdoor gatherings of up to five people in non-COVID hotspots and an extra hour of outdoor recreation for households in hotspots.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian addresses the media on Thursday.Credit:Janie Barrett
The government is working on a reopening date of October 18. A senior minister said, while they were confident NSW could reach 70 per cent, the government accepted the jump to 80 per cent would be more difficult.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian was expected to announce the reopening of hairdressing and beauty salons as the long-promised freedom granted to the state for reaching 6 million jabs on Thursday.
She instead unveiled the relaxation of outdoor gathering rules from September 13, as the state reported a record 1029 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and another three deaths.
The Premier said she was committed to the freedoms despite surging case numbers, saying they “tick the box” for having the lowest risk, but highest value for wellbeing.
“We’re a government that assesses the risk but also assesses our wish to live with this virus,” she said. “We know that people coming together is what people miss the most.”
From next month, people who live outside the local government areas of concern can gather in groups of five people, including children. All adults must be fully vaccinated and the gathering must be held outdoors in a person’s LGA or within 5 kilometres from home.
In the areas of concern, households with all adults vaccinated will be able to gather outdoors for recreation, including picnics, for one hour, in line with existing rules. This is in addition to the one-hour allowed for exercise.
Parents and students will also learn how and when schools will resume when the government’s plan is unveiled on Friday. The plan will include kindergarten to year 2 and year 11 going back first, followed by year 6.
There will also be changes to the HSC examinations, which will be delayed until early November.
The freedoms mark the first step in the plan out of lockdown, with the government insisting the state will lead the way in living with COVID once 70 per cent vaccination rates are reached.
About 6.2 million jabs have been administered across NSW so far, with one third of the population fully vaccinated.
The Premier on Thursday put the community and industries on notice to prepare for mid-October, when NSW is expected to reach its next target and open up to people who are fully vaccinated.
“We’re calling upon industry and citizens to get ready for when we hit that 70 per cent double dose. We are already starting to work with industry stakeholders on how we can go back to safely open up,” she said.
“Get fully vaccinated, you still have time to make sure that when you start opening up, you have those options to live a freer life.”
Ms Berejiklian gave her strongest warning yet that unvaccinated people would miss out on certain freedoms even once the state reached 80 per cent vaccination.
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
“These aren’t necessarily decisions government is making. Organisations will be able to choose whether they welcome people onto their premises … who don’t have the vaccine.”
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said she believed Australia had the potential to be one of the most vaccinated countries in the world with more than 90 per cent coverage.
“For me, the sky’s the limit,” she said, urging the need for equity to ensure vulnerable groups received their jabs as soon as possible.
Dr Chant said Merrylands, Guildford, Auburn, Granville, Greenacre, Blacktown and surrounding areas were key suburbs of concern, describing the new outdoor freedoms as “baby steps recognising the serious situation we are in”.
She encouraged people with symptoms not to be deterred from calling an ambulance despite strains on the state’s hospitals.
There are 698 COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital, with 116 in intensive care. Forty-three of those require ventilation, while hospital cases are aged from their 20s to their 70s.
The lockdown in regional NSW will be extended by another two weeks as high case numbers persist, with another 35 in western NSW and six in the far west reported on Thursday.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said regional NSW was “on a knife’s edge.”Credit:James Brickwood
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the decision was made to protect communities in the regions, describing the situation as a “tinderbox ready to explode”.
“We are on a knife’s edge in the regions. We need to take pressure off the health system,” he said, pointing to cases in the Hunter New England and Central Coast, as well as new sewage fragments causing concern in Tamworth, Merimbula, Cooma and Brewarrina.
Healthcare workers in NSW are now required to be vaccinated after Health Minister Brad Hazzard formally signed a public health order bringing the mandate into effect.
Under the order all staff in health settings, including doctors, nurses, cleaners and administrative staff, must have a first dose of vaccine by September 30, and their second by November 30. Alternatively, they must have their second appointment booked to continue working.
Lidcombe Public School, Doonside Public School and Halinda School will be closed on Friday for cleaning and contact tracing after a member tested positive for COVID-19.
Botany Public School, Fernhill Public School, Gorokan High School, Harrington Street Public School, Lucas Gardens School, Orana Heights Public School and St Clair High School will each reopen for staff and students on Friday.
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