New South Wales citizens will be allowed to attend pubs and clubs, get their hair cut and sit in cafes once the state reaches 70% double vaccination rates – most likely by 18 October.
The NSW government will reveal its roadmap to economic recovery on Thursday at the 11am press conference. It is understood premier Gladys Berejiklian will unveil the plan, which will involve a cautious reopening of restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs for fully vaccinated patrons.
Staff will also have to be fully vaccinated, which could prove challenging for some businesses because of the younger profile of workers in hospitality and the shortage of Pfizer vaccine.
The trigger in the roadmap for the reopening will be when the state reaches 70% fully vaccinated, which is currently expected to occur around 18 October. It is possible the state could reach this milestone earlier.
The roadmap will also see hairdressers and other personal services reopen, again only for those that are fully vaccinated and if staff are fully vaccinated.
All businesses will have to have Covid safety plans, apply a 4 sq metre rule and seated consumption will be mandatory.
It is unclear what the plan will say about return to other workplaces, such as offices, but employers will likely be urged to continue to allow workers who can work from home to do so.
The announcement on Thursday is also expected to lift the regional lockdowns in areas which have had no Covid-19 cases. These include the north coast, the mid north coast and the Riverina. Lockdowns will remain in place for areas in the west, the central west, the Hunter and the Central Coast.
However, with the state facing increasing cases in regions, the emergence of a single case is likely to plunge affected regions back into lockdown.
NSW is developing an app that will allow a person’s vaccination status to be displayed when they check-in using a Service NSW QR code. This will be trialed over coming weeks, and will be a key part of the roadmap implementation.
There remains some doubt over whether the new rules will be implemented in the Covid hotspots, which are currently defined as 12 local government areas in western and south western Sydney.
A decision on those LGAs is expected closer to the date. About 80-85% of NSW’s Covid cases are occurring in those areas at the moment and there are serious concerns about the capacity of hospitals in western Sydney to cope. Cases are expected to peak in the next two weeks, at around 2,000 a day.
Modelling by the Burnet Institute released by the NSW government this week said that hospitalisations in the 12 LGAs of concern would peak at between 2,200 and 3,900 patients, with 947 people requiring intensive care treatment during the first week of October.
The model is based on high vaccination rates starting to moderate infection rates and does not take account of any relaxation of lockdown restrictions.
The government is likely to wait until it starts to see a moderating of new cases before it finally decides on whether to also relax restrictions in the 12 LGAs of concern.