The “final touches” are being added to the New South Wales roadmap out of COVID-19 lockdown and it could be revealed as early as Thursday.
The NSW government has promised greater freedoms for the fully vaccinated at 70 per cent double-dose coverage and further restored freedoms, including international travel and the relaxation of hotel quarantine at 80 per cent coverage.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian will reveal the guide to those freedoms on Thursday, according to media reports.
She’s expected to say that restaurants, bars and shops can welcome back double-vaccinated patrons from October 18 – with capacity limits.
That’s when the state is expected to reach the 70 per cent double-dose milestone.
NSW has now surpassed 75 per cent first-dose vaccination coverage for eligible residents, while nearly 43 per cent are fully jabbed.
However, Ms Berejiklian on Wednesday declined to say if the freedoms restored to vaccinated people will be the same regardless of where they live.
There are 12 local government areas deemed COVID hotspots, where lockdown conditions are the toughest and residents have an overnight curfew.
While vaccination rates in those areas are outstripping the rest of the Greater Sydney, the premier says she’s worried 80 per cent of cases are still in those areas of concern.
“We know from the modelling the worst weeks in terms of case numbers are likely to be in the next week or so … we need to make sure we don’t cause any major adjustment which will see a skyrocketing of cases,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“The roadmap is essentially in good shape. We’ve made great progress.
“I’d rather this conversation than the alternative, which would be ‘why did we allow thousands of people to die?’ … My job is to protect the community.”
NSW reported 1480 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday.
The deaths include a man in his 20s, a man in his 40s, two people in their 60s, two men in their 70s, two men in their 80s and a man in his 90s.
One of the men in their 60s was an Aboriginal man from Dubbo, who became the third Indigenous person in western NSW to die from the virus during the outbreak.
The toll for the current outbreak is now 148.
There are 1136 COVID-19 patients in NSW hospitals with 194 of them in intensive care beds and 78 on ventilators.
Ms Berejiklian said a decision on the extension of COVID-19 lockdown in regional NSW would be made by week’s end.
Some parts of regional NSW are heavily COVID affected while others are virus free.
The regional NSW lockdown is currently scheduled to end on Friday.
The ABC is reporting that the mid and north coast will be released from lockdown then, while other areas will be subject to continuing orders
Despite Ms Berejiklian’s remarks, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said all of Greater Sydney should emerge from lockdown at the same time, including the 12 local government hotspots.
He told 2GB radio that Sydney must avoid a “tale of two cities” post-lockdown.
Burnet Institute modelling shows Greater Sydney’s prolonged lockdown has potentially saved more than 5800 lives and prevented 580,000 infections.
From Monday, fully vaccinated NSW residents outside the 12 council areas of concern can meet in groups of up to five people for outdoor picnics.