Freedom Day in NSW, but not a free-for-all

·3-min read

Morning beers and long-awaited haircuts characterised NSW's first day out of COVID-19 lockdown, but more freedoms could be mere days away as the state charges towards another vaccination milestone.

After 106 days, almost 63,000 cases and almost 440 deaths, stay-at-home orders were lifted across NSW on Monday.

The state last week achieved 70 per cent double-dose vaccination coverage, the trigger for easing restrictions.

But within a week NSW could cross the next threshold for easing restrictions, with 80 per cent of the population to be fully vaccinated as soon as next Monday.

In the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, the state recorded 496 new locally acquired cases, as well as eight additional deaths. But Sunday also saw double-dose vaccination coverage climb to 74 per cent.

From the first Monday after that figure passes 80 per cent, regional travel will be allowed, masks will not be required in office buildings, nightclubs can open - albeit without dancing - and more.

In the meantime, NSW residents have flocked to enjoy Monday's freedoms, with gyms, cafes, restaurants, shops and hairdressers open again and people allowed to travel more than five kilometres from home.

Indoor and outdoor gatherings are also permitted, with caps increased to 10 and 30 people respectively.

But as the lockdown ends a "lockout" of the unvaccinated comes into place, with only the double-jabbed able to enjoy restored freedoms.

This will remain the case until December 1.

Premier Dominic Perrottet has called for patience and goodwill, as businesses reopen, gear back up for in-person trade and get used to checking their customers' vaccination status.

Unlike his predecessor Gladys Berejiklian, Mr Perrottet said he had no concerns labelling Monday a "Freedom Day" for the state but reiterated that existing restrictions must still be followed.

Despite those limitations - including mask wearing, social distancing and strict density limits and venue caps - Small Business Minister Damien Tudehope said the mood in NSW was one of elation.

"The spirit of optimism that's out there is something which is really contagious ... people waking up today are waking up in circumstances where they're feeling happy about their lives," Mr Tudehope said.

Not everyone was feeling optimistic however, with business owners and hospitality staff nervous about conflict with unvaccinated people.

"A lot of people are angry about having to get vaccinated and I worry they will try to make a point at the door," Sydney bartender Lucy, who did not want her surname published, told AAP on Sunday.

Her venue couldn't afford a security guard to man the door.

But Mr Perrottet denied business owners were out on a limb when it came to dealing with people angry at being denied entry and in-venue service.

"We're the first state in the country that's put these plans in place," the newly minted premier told AAP on Sunday.

"There will be challenges and difficulties ... but we certainly don't want to be having police moving through cafes and restaurants. That's just not the state that I love and know."

Clear guidelines have been issued in terms of training staff and signage, the premier added, and police were available if situations escalated.

The Service NSW app's vaccination passport is yet to be rolled out, but residents can use the Medicare app to show proof of vaccination.

Mr Perrottet also indicated he's keen for international travel to resume as quickly as possible with seven days of home quarantine for the fully jabbed, potentially as soon as November.

This would eventually help plug labour shortages, he said.

New Treasurer Matt Kean will later this week provide an economic update taking into account the damage of the NSW lockdown, and will begin outlining the government's recovery plans.

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