Lockdown will be lifted in parts of NSW this weekend but even one Covid-19 case could bring back strict stay-at-home measures.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro announced the NSW North Coast and Mid North Coast will reopen from 12.01am on Saturday, as will several other areas including regional centres such as Albury, Wagga Wagga, Tamworth and Griffith.
Several NSW regions with worrying levels of Covid cases will remain locked down including the South Coast, Queanbeyan, Shoalhaven, Illawarra, Central Coast, Hunter, Central West and Far West.
"We are hoping that this level of opening up in parts of regional and rural New South Wales will give us an ability to get back to a level of normality," he told reporters at the state's daily Covid update on Thursday.
“The opportunity to get back to retail shopping, back to work, back to enjoying time with family and friends.”
He warned it didn’t mean a return to a “pre-lockdown environment”, with some restrictions to remain in place.
“We know with Covid, the way it is contagious and transmissible, we need to have a level of protection for regional and rural NSW,” Mr Barilaro said.
“There will be capacity limits for our hotels, cafes and restaurants, including the four square metre rule, mask wearing, social distancing.
“Community sports won't be permitted yet… It is still a restricted environment.”
Areas to remain in lockdown
— Bryce Ham (@_BryceHam) September 9, 2021
Lockdown threat still looms
Residents in these areas will also live with the threat of going back into lockdown if any future breakouts occur.
“I need to make this absolutely clear for all the communities that are coming out of lockdown today, it is a nice feeling but if there is an active case in your community, you will go back into lockdown for a minimum of 14 days,” he warned.
“That is the commitment we have made to health. It is important that we protect the communities. One case is one case too many in the regions.”
Hope for other areas in lockdown
Mr Barilaro described today’s announcement as “bitter sweet” with large parts of the state still in lockdown.
But he flagged the possibility of opening up other areas that the government is “keeping an eye on”.
“That is based on the work we have done with health, looking at parameters around how you can lift restrictions and open up the regions. It is based on active cases in the community,” he explained.
Vaccination is ‘passport to freedom’
Residents coming out of lockdown have been told to not get complacent about getting the jab amid fears eased restrictions could slow vaccination rates.
“Just because we are opening today, don't take your foot off the accelerator in relation to getting vaccinated,” Mr Barilaro said.
“Being vaccinated is the key for the long term success of never going back into lock down. The people of regional and rural NSW, understand the ultimate passport to freedom is actually vaccination.”
Life after lockdown
Gatherings in the home and public spaces:
Up to five visitors will be allowed in a home (not including children 12 and under).
Up to 20 people can gather in outdoor settings.
Venues including hospitality, retail stores and gyms:
Hospitality venues can reopen subject to one person per 4sqm inside and one person per 2sqm outside, with standing while drinking permitted outside.
Retail stores can reopen under the one person per 4sqm rule.
Personal services such as hairdressers and nail salons can open with one person per 4sqm, capped at five clients per premises.
Gyms and indoor recreation facilities can open under the one person per 4sqm rule and can offer classes for up to 20 people.
Sporting facilities including swimming pools can reopen.
Schools will re-open with Level 3 COVIDSafe measures in place.
Stadiums, theatres and major outdoor recreation facilities:
Major recreation outdoor facilities including stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos can reopen with one person per 4sqm, capped at 5,000 people.
Up to 500 people can attend ticketed and seated outdoor events.
Indoor entertainment and information facilities including cinemas, theatres, music halls, museums and galleries can reopen with one person per 4sqm or 75 per cent fixed seated capacity.
Weddings, funerals and places of worship:
Up to 50 guests can attend weddings, with dancing permitted and eating and drinking only while seated.
Up to 50 guests can attend funerals, with eating and drinking while seated.
Churches and places of worship to open subject to one person per 4sqm rule, with no singing.
Caravan parks and camping grounds can open.
Carpooling will be permitted.
Masks will remain mandatory for all indoor public venues, including public transport, front-of-house hospitality, retail and business premises, on planes and at airports.
Only hospitality staff will be required to wear a mask when outdoors.
Children aged under 12 will not need to wear a mask indoors.
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