NSW’s COVID-19 outbreak and the push to get everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible has been a fast-changing journey. Restrictions have shifted rapidly and it’s been challenging for folks to keep up to date with every new update as it emerges. However, the roadmap to reopening is well underway for fully vaccinated NSW locals now.
Here’s what we know right now.
The NSW Government has announced that certain freedoms for double-vaccinated NSW locals would be accelerated “in response to the faster-than-expected rate of vaccination”. Certain freedoms that were slated for a December 1 rollout have been pushed forward to Monday, November 8.
The statement reads:
From 8 November there will be no limit on visitors to a home, no rules for outdoor gatherings with fewer than 1,000 people, and indoor swimming pools will re-open for all purposes.
Businesses will be able to welcome in more fully vaccinated customers with all premises to move to 1 person per 2 sqm rule, and nightclubs will be able to re-open dancefloors.
Caps will be removed for settings other than gym and dance classes (where the 20 person cap for classes will remain) and replaced by density limits or 100 per cent fixed seated capacity for major recreation outdoor facilities (including stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos) and entertainment facilities (including cinemas and theatres).
The listed freedoms are only accessible to those who have been double vaccinated against COVID-19, hold a valid medical exemption or are under the age of 16.
Unvaccinated adults in NSW have also had the date of their impending freedom delayed. The Government shared that anyone who is unvaccinated “must still abide by pre-roadmap restrictions until the State reaches the 95 per cent double vaccination target, or 15 December”.
Mask-wearing requirements – which apply to all – will also remain in place until the 95 per cent mark (or December 15) is reached.
Over the weekend NSW officially hit its 80% vaccination target and in response, Premier Dominic Perrottet announced new freedoms would officially be in place from Monday, October 18. Read on for which restrictions have been relaxed.
Newly announced Premier Dominic Perrottet has shared he will be making “major changes” to NSW’s roadmap to reopen. The first phase of relaxed restrictions remain set for October 11, but the rules will be slightly different than originally stated. We’ve listed the key points for you below.
Premier Berejiklian estimated October 11 will be the date new freedoms under the 70 per cent vaccination rate will come into play. Following that, however, the Premier did stress that “We also envisage that there’ll be a very short period of time between 70% and 80% as little as two weeks, because of the rate of vaccination that we’ve seen, the take-up that we’ve seen”.
At the point where NSW hits the milestone of 80 per cent double vaccination for people ages 16 up, fully vaxxed people will see additional changes come into play under its reopen plan.
The NSW Government has also shared it is “considering changes to incoming international arrival caps, so more people can return home for Christmas”.
You can watch the full announcement via ABC News here. But we’ve shared a breakdown of the details for you below.
Per Gladys Berejiklian’s statement on September 9, 2021, “Stay-at-home orders for adults who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be lifted from the Monday after NSW passes the 70 per cent double vaccination target”.
She went on to highlight that vaccination is imperative (save for those with medical exemptions) if Aussies hope to have access to the upcoming freedoms NSW plans to roll out as it begins to reopen.
“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 per cent milestone, you will not be able to take advantage of these freedoms,” Berejiklian said before highlighting changes to come.
What changes are coming for vaccinated adults in NSW under this reopen plan?
70 per cent double dose vaccination freedoms
On the Monday after we hit a double dose vaccination rate of 70 per cent in NSW, the following changes will come into place for fully vaccinated adults:
The following is quoted from the NSW Government website.
Gatherings in the home and public spaces:
- Up to 10 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, this now includes indoor pools.
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.
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.
- Churches and places of worship to open subject to one person per 4sqm rule, with no singing [this has now been tweaked so performers and choirs up to 10 people can sing].
- Domestic travel, including trips to regional NSW, will be permitted.
- Caravan parks and camping grounds can open.
- Carpooling will be permitted.
- Workers in regional areas who have received one vaccination dose will be permitted to return to their workplace from October 11 and will be given a grace period until November 1 to receive their second dose.
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.
- Kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 12 students will still return to face-to-face learning on October 18.
80 per cent double dose vaccination freedoms
As of October 18, rules will relax around hospitality and social distancing rules.
While Gladys Berejiklian originally estimated regional travel would return at 80%, Perrottet has revised the roadmap and as such regional travel will not be allowed in NSW until November 1.
It was also confirmed that at the point of 80 per cent double dose vaccination, unvaccinated people will be able to attend places of worship – with a “huge degree of caution”.
Other major updates regarding the 80 per cent mark would include access to community sport, no caps on funeral and wedding attendance and no caps on services such as hairdressers.
The 1 person per 4sqm rule will apply indoors, and 1 person per 2sqm rule will apply outdoors. Hospitality bookings will also be capped at 20 people.
Perrotett’s changes include the following:
- Face masks in office buildings will become optional.
- Up to 20 visitors will be allowed in a home where all adults are vaccinated (not including children 12 and under).
- Up to 50 people can gather in outdoor settings (only 2 unvaccinated persons are allowed).
- Nightclubs are set to reopen, though dancing will not be permitted.
- Ticketed outdoor events will resume with guest attendance set at 3,000.
- Standing while drinking is permitted in pubs.
- All school students will also now return to on-site learning with a range of COVID-safe measures in place by October 25.
The Australian Government has also confirmed that NSW will no longer be declared a COVID-19 hotspot now that it has reached the 80% double dose mark.
Beyond 80 per cent double dose vaccination in NSW
We’ve also been given some insight into what kind of restrictions will shift once we move past the rate of 80 per cent double dose vaccination (presently, NSW is sitting at 85.5 per cent first dose, so we know we will surpass 80 per cent double dose).
On this, Berejiklian originally said:
“Now, the third stage of reopening will happen on the first of December, that is at least four or five weeks after we hit the 80% double dose. We envisage we’ll have at least 90% of our adult population vaccinated by then. On the first of December is when unvaccinated people will be able to participate in particular events, and that’s when the two square metre rule kicks in as well.”
The NSW government announced that as of December 1, rules will relax for unvaccinated people at the December 1 mark. However, Berejiklian stated it will be at the discretion of businesses to decide if they wish to accept non-vaccinated patrons.
We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, friends! If you haven’t been jabbed yet, you can use this map to help find a vaccination site near you.
This article on NSW’s reopen plan has been updated to include additional details since its original publish date.