Premier Dominic Perrottet has announced “major changes” to NSW’s Covid-19 exit strategy, as the state recorded 587 new locally acquired cases in the 24 hours to 8 p.m. yesterday.
One of the headline tweaks will be reopening schools for many year groups early.
Fully vaccinated adults are due to get a swathe of new freedoms from Monday – including being able to do things like eat at restaurants and go to the gym, which have been off limits in some areas for more than 100 days.
While the settings around hospitality and retail remain unchanged, Perrottet announced several major departures from the previous blueprint, including:
- Increasing the number of adults allowed to gather in homes from five to 10
- Increasing the number of adults allowed to gather in public spaces from 20 to 30
- Increasing the cap of people at weddings and funerals from 50 to 100
- Reopening indoor pools
- A ban on singing at religious services will also be tweaked, with performers – including choirs of up to 10 people – permitted
Restrictions for fully inoculated people will be eased again the Monday after NSW reaches 80 percent double-dose coverage.
The second wave of relaxations are due to come into effect from October 25, and Mr Perrottet also announced changes to those, including:
- Making face masks in office buildings optional
- Increasing the number of adults allowed to gather in public spaces to 50
- Nightclubs will re-open, but dancing will not be permitted
- Allowing 3,000 people to be able to attend ticketed outdoors events
- The return of students to on-site learning in NSW’s lockdown areas will be brought forward.
While kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 12 students will still return to face-to-face learning from October 18, all other students will be back on campus from 25 October.
“It’s a major relief for parents and their sanity and I think this is an important decision today and I want to thank all the teachers who are are there getting vaccinated to ensure that we can open our schools as safely as possible,” Perrottet said.
Minister for Jobs Stuart Ayres also announced a blanket Covid-safe plan for stadiums, which will be specific to each venue, and come into effect on 1 December.
Perrottet said the loosened restrictions his government would introduce from the beginning of next week were “sensible and measured”.
The new premier, who was sworn in only this week, said the changes followed a “very productive and constructive” crisis cabinet meeting last night, which was last night rebranded to the “Economic Recovery Committee”.
“That’s the crisis cabinet meeting we’ll have as we transition to a new subcommittee,” he said.
“It was a long meeting, but one in which I think was constructive, productive and these changes today, I think, will make a real difference.”
He said the departure his predecessor Gladys Berejiklian’s roadmap wasn’t an indication he was unhappy with them.
“No, I worked very closely on the preparation of [that] roadmap with Minister [Stuart] Ayres and the former Deputy Premier John Barilaro,” Perrottet said.
“Any government has different views … and I think based on where we are today in terms of where the case numbers are, the fact the vaccination rate was at 70 percent – it gave me an opportunity to reflect on it.”
Deputy Premier Paul Toole said workers in regional areas who have received one vaccination dose will be permitted to return to their workplace from 11 October and will be given a grace period until 1 November to receive their second dose.
Regional areas are those outside Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Wollongong, Shellharbour and the Central Coast.
Yesterday, NSW became the first Australian state to fully vaccinate 70 percent of its population aged 16 and above against Covid-19.
Another 1600 cases in Victoria
Victoria has recorded 1638 new community Covid-19 infections and two deaths.
The deaths of a woman in her 60s from Wyndham and a woman in her 70s from Hume take the toll of this outbreak to 70.
The new infections were found from 77,238 test results processed on Wednesday – a record for the state.
They take the number of active cases across the state to 15,074, which is another record high.
The state is still likely days or weeks away from the peak of new infections, with the turning point expected later in the month.
Second baby tests positive
The ACT has recorded 41 new locally acquired cases of Covid-19.
At least five of the new cases were infectious in the community and 24 are yet to be linked to a known source.
There are currently 15 people in hospital with the virus.
Seven people are in intensive care – six of those requiring ventilation.
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith also confirmed more cases had been linked to a growing cluster at the special care nursery at the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children.
Stephen-Smith said a second baby and a staff member had tested positive overnight, bringing the total number of cases in the cluster to five.
She said the special nursery ward at the centre of the outbreak was separate to the neo-natal ICU also at the hospital.