NSW Freedom Day: Premier 'overrules health advice' with venues to open next month

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The NSW government has reportedly set a tentative date for “freedom day” next month, despite health officials advising them to take a more cautious approach to reopening public venues.

The state’s crisis cabinet has signed off overnight on a lockdown exit plan, agreeing on a timeframe that will see restrictions eased as early as October 18, The Daily Telegraph reports. 

It’s expected NSW will hit its goal of fully vaccinating 70 percent of people over 16 in mid-October, which will allow some freedoms to be restored.

On Tuesday 2GB's Ben Fordham told listeners the state government was working towards a date of October 14 but when asked at the time the premier would not be drawn on a specific date. 

"Forty-two per cent of our citizens are fully vaccinated, a number which is very pleasingly inching towards that 70 per cent double vaccination rate we're all looking forward to, which we still will be around mid-October," Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Wednesday. 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney, Wednesday, September 8, 2021. Source: AAP
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian and her senior ministers have agreed on a roadmap out of lockdown, with details to be announced at 11am. Source: AAP

Health officials reportedly overruled 

The premier reportedly overruled health officials, including chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant, who advised her to aim for 80-85 percent of full vaccination coverage before opening venues, according to The Australian.

But she eventually agreed to the 70 per cent target, if the transmission rate falls below one.

NSW reported 1,480 new locally acquired Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, fuelling hopes the state's Delta outbreak is beginning to plateau.

Details of the state's roadmap out of lockdown are expected to be outlined later this morning at the daily 11am Covid briefing.

What we know so far 

Gatherings, eating out and shopping are expected to be among the first freedoms restored under the lockdown exit plan.

Sydneysiders could enjoy a drink at the pub or have a meal at their favourite restaurant or cafe with proof of vaccination.

A “vaccine passport” will be linked to the Service NSW app to allowed inoculated residents to enjoy the new freedoms. 

Group of friends toasting beer glasses at table in bar. Source: Getty Images
You could be allowed to have a socially-distanced drink at the pub by mid October. Source: Getty Images

Regional travel is also expected to resume, with a travel permit system in place for Sydneysiders.

Some regional areas without active cases are expected to have their lockdowns lifted at midnight on Friday.

Further freedoms are anticipated in late October or early November, when the state hits the 80 per cent double dose target.

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