'Is that all?': NSW residents look for loopholes in new Covid rule

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Vaccinated NSW residents will start to be offered eased restrictions from next month, Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Thursday despite the state reporting 1029 new cases

The restriction changes are in response to NSW hitting its six million August 31 vaccination target ahead of schedule. 

The government's crisis cabinet agreed on Wednesday night to some small changes to the rules, it was also announced the regions in NSW will stay in lockdown until September 10.

From September 13, anyone who has been fully-vaccinated and lives outside the LGAs of concern will be allowed to have an outdoor gathering with up to five people, including children. 

All of the adults in the group must be fully vaccinated and live within the same LGA, or within 5km from home.

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The easing of some restrictions have been announced for people in NSW next month, if they are fully vaccinated. Source: Getty Images/AAP

"So, it means that if you have friends or relatives within your LGA or within the 5km, you will be able to congregate together in an outdoor gathering of five, as opposed to just two from different households," the premier said.

However, for those in an LGA of concern, households will be allowed to gather outdoors for recreation, if adults have been fully vaccinated and they don't mix with other households.

Recreation in the LGAs of concern is restricted to just one hour, and people must still follow the other restrictions in place, like the curfew.

The one hour of recreation in LGAs of concern is in addition to the one hour of exercise.

Dr Kerry Chant supported these "baby steps" saying they were important for mental heath and to reward people for getting vaccinated.

"So, I think, to be perfectly frank, these steps are baby steps, recognising the serious situation we are in," she said.

"I think it's important that we are allowing those interactions, that human interaction in an outdoor space."

The LGAs of concern are subject to change, Ms Berejiklian warned.

"If there's a local government area which has shown a substantial decline in cases and stabilisation, that could come out of an area of concern," she said. 

"But similarly f we see a local government area where health is concerned, that will be added to the list."

'Is that it?': Residents left underwhelmed by new 'freedom'

The NSW premier had flagged "a new freedom" for days, leading to speculation about what it might be.

"Thank you to the millions of people across NSW who have come forward to get vaccinated," Ms Berejiklian said on Twitter following the press conference.

"From Monday, 13 September, you will have additional freedoms if you have had both doses."

Many online expressed disappointment after the announcement.

"Is that it?" wondered one person, alongside a laughing emoji. 

"Hardly a road map. Big deal. Who's family lives within 5 km anyway. Not many are in the same LGA," another said. 

"I thought NSW police had enough on their plate. How are they going to monitor people gathering in a park for recreation and picnics?" another resident responded.  

Given the group of five includes children, ABC news reporter Matt Bevan lamented that it "literally changes nothing at all for me".

Others, like TV personality Jessica Rowe, joked about using the new rule to get a haircut – something many thought the eased restrictions might have allowed after the premier hinted at it on radio.

"So could I get my hairdresser to cut & colour my hair in a park if we’re both fully vaccinated?" she tweeted.

Some were supportive, saying they wished it had been brought in sooner to encourage vaccine uptake while others on social media expressed concern it will lead to more cases on the day NSW recorded its worst daily case tally of the pandemic. 

When 70 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated, a range of family, industry, community and economic restrictions will be lifted.

Eased rule designed to give hope

Dr Claire Hooker, from the University of Sydney said the eased restrictions for fully-vaccinated people will signal to people the lockdown will end, eventually.

"These are a signal that they can afford people some hope that lockdown does have a time limit on it, we will emerge from it, that we will be increasingly able to take actions that can improve our circumstances and our mental health," she told the ABC. 

"So to the degree that people can latch onto that signal it will make them feel better."

However, she did acknowledge some may still struggle as restrictions ease and some may consider it to be "a very limited reward for ongoing tribulations".

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