With the likelihood of New South Wales ever recording ZERO daily COVID cases ever again near impossible, vaccination rates are one of our only tickets out of lockdown and restrictions. Freedom is so close we can nearly taste it!
Whether it’s Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna, New South Wales is leading the Australian vaccine race. Health officials have laid out a three-stage COVID-19 roadmap, the first stage of the easing of restrictions has already begun which kicked off when the state hit 70% vaccination rate, on October 11.
Stage one of the roadmap includes a range of many freedoms, including visiting other people’s homes with up to 10 visitors who will be allowed in a home where all adults are vaccinated (this doesn’t include children under 12.) Up to 30 people will be allowed to gather in outdoor settings. All retail will be allowed to operate under the one person per four square metres rule. Unvaccinated people will only be able to access critical retail.
I think one of the most exciting changes, especially for us uni students, is that pubs and clubs have the green light to open (and yes, this includes the Ox!). Still, these venues will have to abide by the one person per four square metres rule inside and one person per two square metres outside, with standing while drinking permitted outside, but unfortunately, dance floors won’t open (yet).
Gyms and indoor recreation facilities will be allowed to open, and yes, you guessed it, under the one person per four-square-metre rule. Sporting facilities, including swimming pools, can also reopen. Hairdressers and nail salons can open, capped at five clients per premises. Weddings and funerals will be allowed to go ahead, capped at 100 people. Major recreation outdoor facilities, including stadiums, racecourses, theme parks, and zoos, can reopen with one person per four square metres, capped at 5000 people, and movie theatres that will operate at 75% capacity. Churches will be able to hold ceremonies although with no singing and dancing. A staged return to school for students will also commence. Masks will remain mandatory for all indoor public venues, but you will no longer need to wear a mask outside if just going for a walk. However, you MUST have both doses of the vaccine to access all of these freedoms from October 11.
The second stage of the roadmap comes into effect when New South Wales hits an 80% vaccination rate, expected on or around October 25. New freedoms such as state travel will be permitted, with residents able to travel anywhere within New South Wales. You will be allowed to have ten people visit your home, drinking while standing up in a pub will be allowed, and there will be no limit on the number of people allowed to attend weddings and funerals. You will only be permitted to have access to these freedoms if you have had both doses of the vaccine.
The third and final stage of the roadmap will come into effect on December 1, and on this date, vaccination statistics are expected to have exceeded 90% double dose. When we hit this day, ALL venues, including pubs to restaurants, gyms, will move to a capacity restriction of one person for every two square metres. Masks will not be required indoors, and nightclubs can reopen, where dancing will be permitted. Government officials are also hinting that international travel will also be on the cards. If you are unvaccinated, you will be given every freedom offered to those who are fully vaccinated on December 1.
It sure has been a long road to get to this point, but with vaccine rates soaring and hospitalisation rates dropping, New South Wales is about to learn what it’s like to live in a COVID normal world.
Archie Staines reporting for Interp.