New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday said the next phase of the re-opening will include increased access to hospitality venues, the ability to travel freely throughout the state and eased limits on the number of guests able to visit homes once the 80% threshold is reached, which she expects will come at the end of next month.
"I hope New South Wales will show the way to the nation as to what is possible in living with Covid," Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney. Authorities believe that by Dec. 1, "we will be at that Covid normal state where hopefully we will be booking our international travel."
A third phase of the reopening will take effect on Dec. 1 and allow unvaccinated people to participate in activities like community sports and regional travel, as well as eased restrictions on venue capacity for offices, indoor pools and nightclubs, she said.
Overseas arrivals levels are set to increase to allow about 3,500 Australians to return home each week, Berejiklian said. Once Prime Minister Scott Morrison "gives that green light, we will be able to go overseas as well," she added.
The new freedoms come after months of lockdown in Sydney, amid an outbreak of the delta variant that has seen roughly half the country under stay at home orders. They build on a previously-announced phase-one easing that will see some restrictions dialed back once a 70% full vaccination target is reached among those over age 16, likely on Oct. 11.
New South Wales recorded 787 new cases overnight and the seven-day average fell below 1,000 for first time since August 29. Neighboring Victoria state hit 705 new infections Monday as the seven-day average continues to climb.
New South Wales has recorded 365 deaths since the pandemic began. The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Monday that of the 29 people who died at home in New South Wales, only 13 were known to health authorities.
The commitment to ease the lockdown marks a reversal from the nation's strict Covid-Zero approach, which has been under unprecedented pressure from the outbreak and has seen states take different tactics in reopening. New South Wales and Victoria now favor hitting vaccination targets before opening their economies back up, while states like Western Australia have chosen to keep their borders shut to keep the virus out.
Morrison wants all domestic border restrictions to be lifted by Christmas.
The Australian Capital Territory, home of Canberra, on Monday said it would end its lockdown measures on Oct. 15, amid expectations that double-dose vaccination rates would hit 80% by then.
Published : September 27, 2021