NSW’s public transport stood up to its first post-pandemic test on Monday, as more than a million school students returned to classrooms.
Hundreds of extra security and marshalling officers were out in force across Sydney’s transport network for the return, which coincided with more people also going back to work.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was “very happy” people weren’t rushing onto public transport as they eased their way into more “normal” activities with the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions.
“The public transport system to date doesn’t seem to have buckled under pressure,” she said on Monday.
The state recorded three new COVID-19 cases on Monday, from more than 4200 tests.
On trains, buses and ferries, extra staff monitor social distancing of 1.5 metres and overcrowding as commuters tried to get to their destinations during the morning peak.
Under coronavirus prevention measures, Sydney buses can carry 12 people, train carriages can have 32 passengers and a single Manly ferry can transport 245 people.
Ms Berejiklian said she was pleased with how NSW residents had responded to the new rules.
“We please ask every single business, every single person who leaves home, to think about their actions in the workplace or think about their actions when they are moving around,” she said.
“Because your action can make the difference between someone getting the disease or not.”
Ms Berejiklian said early indications were that most parents had sent children to school on Monday, and the state’s absentee rate was “not that much higher than what it would have been pre-COVID”.
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance warned train stations could close temporarily if there was overcrowding.
“We’ve got 1.2 million kids on the move,” he told Nine’s Today show on Monday.
“We just need everyone to be patient.”
- Restrictions are gradually lifting. TND has made it easier for you to keep track. Check the latest rules for your state here
Mr Constance said if parents could drive their children to school they should. Anyone who could work from home should do so, or at least avoid travelling at peak times.
Asked if public transport was safe, Mr Constance said it was safe “if people stay 1.5 metres away from each other”.
The return to the classrooms full-time comes two months after COVID-19 restrictions forced about 800,000 public school children to study remotely.
Some NSW independent and Catholic schools will also return full-time on Monday. Others are working towards a June 1 return date.
Meanwhile, beauty salons in NSW will be able to open for business from June 1, with strict rules.
They will require COVID-19 safe plans, which include removing books and magazines from waiting areas, increased hygiene protocols and keeping records of attendance.
No more than 10 clients will be allowed inside salons at once, and four square metres of space must be allowed per person.
Also on Sunday, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said zoos, reptile parks and aquariums would re-open from June 1.
Extra safety measures will be in place, including enhanced cleaning and limited visitor numbers.
The Berejiklian government also announced a $50 million package to support art and cultural organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The money will be delivered in two stages, with the first stage to support non-profit art and cultural organisations to hibernate temporarily. The second stage will help them restart operations in coming months.