NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she’s confident Sydney will reopen on October 11, with vaccination rates likely to hit 70 per cent double dose in the days prior.
Ms Berejiklian said there is likely to be “as little as two weeks” between the 70 per cent and 80 per cent figure.
Once NSW hits 80 per cent double dose, there will be further restrictions eased including no limits on regional travel. Community sport will also return at this point.
“I really ask everybody to exercise a lot of caution between 70 per cent and 80 per cent,” Ms Berejiklian said.
The Premier also confirmed that unvaccinated people would also enjoy the same freedoms of others from December 1.
“Vaccination remains our ticket to freedom so we need to work even harder to get jabs in arms, to help stop the spread, minimise outbreaks and ensure people are protected when we open up,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the NSW Government is considering changes to incoming international arrival caps, so more people can return home for Christmas.
“The NSW Government’s 70 per cent roadmap lifts fully vaccinated people out of lockdown and when we reach 80 per cent, restrictions will ease even further,” Mr Barilaro said.
“The key continues to be vaccination rates, so please do not hesitate and book in for your free COVID-19 vaccine today so we can reach these targets as soon as possible.
“I must also clarify that travel between Greater Sydney and regional NSW will only be permitted when the state reaches 80 per cent double dose. This change is necessary to give some regional areas the time they need to increase local vaccination rates.”
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the milestone marked a shift in gear for the State’s economic recovery.
“There’s a real sense of optimism returning to our community as our vaccination rates keep climbing and that’s giving businesses the confidence they need to reopen and for people to start returning to work and getting their lives back on track,” Mr Perrottet said.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard thanked the people of NSW for their sacrifices.
“Our health workers continue to rely on people to make smart choices, to keep a safe distance, not go to work when they are feeling unwell and to get tested when they show the slightest of symptoms,” he said.
“It’s that dedication which allows us to ease some of the restrictions again and to begin the process of opening up the state.”
From December 1 further changes will be introduced including all venues moving to the 2sqm rule, masks will not be required indoors at offices, indoor pools and nightclubs can reopen, and unvaccinated people will have greater freedoms.
Meanwhile, NSW has also confirmed there will be no limit on the number of visitors to a home from December 1 – meaning Christmas celebrations will be able to go ahead.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.