'We expect an answer': Three 'concerns' raised over NSW roadmap

·5-min read

NSW’s updated roadmap to freedom has been unveiled but the opposition claims the three-stage plan lacks enough detail to allow life to return to normal.

Labor leader Chris Minns has given the premier 48 hours to clarify three points about the state’s path out of lockdown once 80 per cent double-dose vaccination coverage is reached.

“So there are many questions relating to the opening up. We do believe it requires clarity.” he said.

NSW Labor Leader Chris Minns speaks to media at the Hindu Benevolent Fund at Wentworthville Community Centre in Sydney, Sunday, September 26, 2021. Source: AAP
NSW opposition leader Chris Minns has accused the premier of failing to address key concerns about how the state’s roadmap to freedom will work. Source: AAP

“I don't anticipate that the government necessarily has to come out this afternoon and explain or answer all of these questions, but within the next 24 and 48 hours, these questions do need to be clarified," he said.

"Businesses, the community, members of the public and families are relying on detailed understanding of these health orders from the NSW Government in order to get back to normal.”

1. How will vaccination status be enforced?

The legal status of law enforcement requesting vaccination proof was the first concern raised by Mr Minns.

Gladys Berejiklian was quizzed about the legality issue during her earlier announcement.

“Are police officers under the public health order legally allowed to ask someone for their vaccine status?" the premier was asked by a reporter, referring to a case which suggested the officer was only allowed to ask for a person's name and address, but not their vaccination status. 

The premier said the government would consider getting legal advice on these matters but flagged it wouldn’t be a huge problem as vaccination rates rise.

“We know that the legal system recognises that when you are in a pandemic and it is about saving lives and not overwhelming the hospital system, the legal system supports the measures, in exceptional circumstances that governments have to adopt,” she said.

“I appreciate some individuals will have very strong views and want to take matters up, and that is a matter for them. We won't be distracted as a government. We will do what's right by the community.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney, Monday, September 27, 2021. Source: AAP
The premier was quizzed ahout the legality of vaccination enforcement while revealing the state's roadmap to freedom. Source: AAP

But her response wasn’t good enough for the opposition, who demanded a clarification

"We do expect an answer in relation to that because it's crucial that that particular legal question is asked and answered before we hit the 80 per cent double dose threshold," he said.

2. What will the infection protocol be?

The second issue raised by Mr Minns was how new infections within a business would be handled.

“Whether it's a club, a pub, a hotel, a casino, what is the obligation and liability for the owner of that premises? And what if you're a customer?” he questioned.

“What if you're going to see family and friends at a pub, and there's an exposure at that site. We do need clarity in relation to that, so that the people of this state can understand what their obligations are.”

It’s another issue the premier was asked about during her 11am briefing.

Ms Berejiklian said the government was finalising a “compliance regime”.

“NSW Health is working on that as we speak and we hope to convey that to the community as soon as it is finalised, and we will confirm the compliance regime,” she explained.

Ms Berejiklian said the detail in the three-stage plan was based on “very careful consideration” after making a number of assumptions about case numbers and hospital admissions.

“The work we have done to date has been based on all that detail and the two outstanding things we have to convey to the community is what tracking, trace, isolation and quarantine look like once we hit those vaccination milestones and also confirmation on the compliance regime to support business,” she said.

“Again my strongest message to business is that you won't have to do much more than what you did pre-Delta but we just ask that everybody respect the rules, and individuals also have a responsibility to step up and do the right thing.”

Members of the public wear face masks as they check into the Sonic Healthcare COVID-19 Vaccinations hub in the central business district (CBD) of Sydney, Thursday, September 23, 2021. Source: AAP
The Berejiklian government is finalising details of a “compliance regime” and the protocol for handling new infections once restrictions are lifted .Source: AAP

3. How will the Service NSW app work?

The final question Mr Minns wants answered is where the Service NSW app is up to.

“We were promised this app for nearly a year now, so that it could prove the vaccination status of members of the public so that they can enter places in close confines indoors and enjoy a normal life,” he said.

“So where's that up to, and what's with the delays? Why has it been so delayed given that we knew that this date was coming a long time ago? And truly the government had a long time to prepare for that eventuality.”

NSW Minister for Customer Service, Victor Dominello, told the ABC last week the app was almost ready.

"We're aiming to do a pilot in the regions commencing on October 6 for two weeks ... we can then open up to the rest of the state," he said.

Mr Minns said he wasn't trying “to score political points”.

“...not to do anything other than make sure that freedom day is an absolute success for the state of New South Wales. We want it to go seamlessly. We want everybody to understand the rules. We want life to get back to normal,” he said.

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