NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has announced a raft of changes to the state's roadmap out of Covid restrictions, offering greater freedoms to vaccinated Sydneysiders.
Addressing reporters from the Homebush vaccination centre, Mr Perrottet on Thursday praised healthcare workers for facilitating the state hitting the 70 per cent double dose vaccine target, which he called a "great milestone".
"We have always said that vaccination is the key to our freedom and the sacrifices and the effort of people right across New South Wales have ensured that we can open up as quickly and safely as possible," he said.
What has changed on the roadmap?
Those fully vaccinated will benefit from the following "major changes" from Monday:
People can welcome 10 vaccinated people into their homes. It was previously set to increase to five.
Weddings and funerals can have a capacity of 100. It was previously set to increase to 50.
A group of 30 vaccinated people can meet outdoors. It was previously set to increase to 20.
Indoor pools will reopen for lessons, lap swimming and rehab activities.
Other key changes include:
The date all school children will return to classrooms will be brought forward to October 25.
As flagged earlier on Thursday, masks will not be required in offices from 80 per cent double dosed, brought forward from the initial December 1 date.
Outdoor ticketed events can have a maximum capacity of 3,000 from 80 per cent double dosed. It was previously meant to be 500.
Nightclubs will be able to open for seated patrons from 80 per cent.
"Today is a great day," Mr Perrottet said.
He stressed the changes were endorsed by Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant. The latter was absent from Thursday's press conference.
Mr Perrottet said he did not disagree with the roadmap set by former premier Gladys Berejiklian but said the decreasing case rate had allowed him to make “very sensible” changes.
Mr Hazzard stressed the changes were "moderate" and had been "very well considered".
What does it mean for school students and teachers?
The first group of students returning on October 18 will be kindergarten, Year one and Year 12, with the remaining cohorts now all returning the following week.
Mr Perrottet said he was implementing common-sense changes that would speed up life returning to normal.
"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 out there getting vaccinated to ensure that we can open our schools as safely as possible," he said.
NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell welcomed the move to get students back to school sooner.
"As I have said many times, we know that the best learning environment for our children is in the classroom with their teachers and with their friends," she said.
Teachers must be fully vaccinated to return to classrooms and will still be required to wear masks after the state reaches 80 per cent double dosage.
About 45,000 teachers across the state are fully vaccinated so far.
Leading epidemiologist questions changes
UNSW epidemiologist Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, a World Health Organisation advisor, expressed her concern over the easing.
She told ABC News the plan was "a little confusing" due to the varying vaccine status of mixed households and said it was vital for the government to focus on improving the vaccination rate of the under 40s who she says are the most active in society.
"I'd be really delighted if they held off this until they got to 80 per cent or more of the under 40s," she said.
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