Masks at shopping centres will no longer be compulsory and QR check-ins will be removed for a host of low-risk venues from next month.
The NSW Government has updated the roadmap for easing restrictions after the State reaches the 95 per cent double dose vaccination target or December 15, whichever comes first.
Adjustments to previous settings scheduled for this milestone include:
· Masks will only be required on public transport and planes, at airports, and for indoors front-of-house hospitality staff who are not fully vaccinated (previously all indoors front-of-house hospitality staff regardless of vaccination status). Masks will be strongly encouraged in settings where you cannot social distance;
· No density limits (previously one person per 2sqm);
· COVID safety plans will be optional for businesses and will be supported by SafeWork NSW;
· QR check-ins will only be required at high-risk venues including hospitals, aged and disability care facilities, gyms, places of worship, funerals or memorial services, personal services (e.g. hairdressers and beauty salons), limited hospitality settings (including pubs, small bars, registered clubs and nightclubs), and for indoor music festivals with more than 1,000 people; and
· Proof of vaccination will no longer be required by Public Health Order for most activities (businesses can still require proof at their own discretion). Proof of vaccination will still be required for indoor music festivals with more than 1,000 people.
To maintain high levels of immunity across the community, NSW Health is rolling out a booster vaccination program at its clinics to individuals aged 18 and older who received their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine six months or more ago.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the easing of restrictions was only possible because NSW is amongst the highest vaccinated populations in the world and the introduction of the booster shot program.
“We’re leading the world when it comes to vaccinations and that is a tremendous achievement we can all be proud of because it has allowed us to return to normal as quickly and safely as possible,” Mr Perrottet said.
“The easing of these restrictions will allow people to get out and enjoy summer providing a boost for some of our hardest industries as we do everything we can to ensure we keep people safe as we learn to live with COVID.”
Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the roadmap was a staged and considered approach which ensured Regional NSW was able to welcome back visitors in a COVID safe way.
“Regional NSW is open for business thanks to high vaccination rates right across the state. I’d remind visitors to our beautiful beaches, countryside and outback this summer to be respectful and ensure they are abiding by safety measures, which include wearing masks on public transport, planes and at airports,” he said.
Minister for Jobs, Investment and Tourism Stuart Ayres said the updated plans for the next stage of the roadmap was great news for businesses still impacted by the remaining restrictions.
“This is a timely boost for businesses just before the busy Christmas and summer holiday periods,” Mr Ayres said.
“I want to encourage everyone to go out and support NSW businesses – whether it’s a meal out, booking a regional trip or holiday shopping at your favourite local store, this is a prime time to enjoy the new freedoms and help NSW businesses bounce back.”
Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said COVID booster shots would be an important part of keeping the community safe through the summer and new year.
“If you had your second COVID vaccination jab six months or more ago, you should book a booster right now. Don’t’ forget if you haven’t been vaccinated at all go and get the jab to protect yourself and your family,” Mr Hazzard said.
“By stepping up for a jab and a booster shot you help protect yourself and everyone around you, including the elderly, those with underlying health conditions and young children who aren’t yet eligible for vaccinations.
“We will also need to continue to get tested if we develop COVID symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, and continue to follow public health advice.”
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.