NSW will begin reopening for fully-vaccinated adults on Monday, but some problems have yet to be cleared up.
The revised roadmap announced by Premier Dominic Perrottet on Thursday has brought forward the restoration of several freedoms, such as increased caps on the number of people allowed at gatherings.
However, the government’s vaccine passport trial hasn’t been able to keep up with the reopening timeline, while Mr Perrottet’s announcement has also caused confusion on the travel front.
As restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs prepare to open, and people prepare to welcome guests into their homes again, here are the issues to watch.
Vaccine passports aren’t ready for the reopening
In September it was announced that a two-week vaccine passport trial would begin somewhere in regional NSW on October 6.
As that date approached, it became clear the trial wouldn’t wrap up in time for the state to begin reopening for fully-vaccinated adults on October 11.
“The pilot is being rolled out gradually,” a Service NSW spokesperson told The New Daily.
“It commenced 6 October with internal government participants and will become available to up to 500 staff and customers at selected clubs, aged-care facilities and taxi companies from 11 October.”
Neither Service NSW nor Digital Minister Victor Dominello’s office have been able to confirm exactly where this pilot will take place.
Part of the reason for is that Service NSW only received access to the Australian Immunisation Register – run by the federal government – at the end of September.
A two-week pilot is still needed to “test connectivity and security” between the app and the Australian Immunisation Register, the Service NSW spokesperson added.
In the meantime, there’s still the option of using the Medicare Express Plus app or showing a paper vaccination certificate when entering those kinds of venues.
The vaccine passports in the Service NSW app won’t ever be mandatory, but they are set to make confirming people’s vaccination status until December 1 a lot easier.
There’s confusion about travelling within NSW
On Thursday, a spokesperson for Deputy Premier Paul Toole told ABC News that under the new reopening plan, Sydneysiders would soon be able to make day trips to wineries and other venues in regional areas.
This turned out to be a miscommunication.
By Friday morning, the state government was back-pedalling regarding who can do what and where.
“I know that the health orders were not probably clear enough,” Mr Toole later told ABC Radio National on Friday morning.
He clarified that recreational day trips out of Sydney will not be allowed from Monday, which was always the case.
“It’s a little bit grey at the moment, where people think they can do day trips,” Mr Toole added.
“It will be cleared up today very clearly to say black and white that you can’t go from Greater Sydney into the regions, and you cannot go from a regional community into Greater Sydney.”
However, it’s still possible to travel to regional areas for approved work or compassionate reasons.
Unrestricted travel within NSW is scheduled to begin later in October, once the state has hit 80 per cent vaccine coverage.
Some experts are concerned about the stats
When Mr Perrottet sped up the state’s roadmap out of lockdown on Thursday, there was debate over whether or not it was in line with health advice.
At the time, Mr Perrottet claimed that his changes were approved by health authorities, but it was later reported that Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant did not personally approve of the revised roadmap.
Several health experts as well as the Australian Medical Association have slammed the revised roadmap for being rushed.
The flack comes as the state’s worker’s compensation regulator predicts COVID-related claims could explode in the 12 months after opening up.
The State Insurance Regulatory Authority estimated that with vaccination coverage at 80 per cent, workers who prove they were infected in the workplace could end up claiming a total of $638 million in compensation for contracting the virus over the year, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The organisation noted that the vast majority of claims in Australia since the pandemic began happened during this year’s Delta outbreak.
Most of these employees worked in retail, hospitality or emergency services.
Nevertheless, on Monday, most premises will only reopen to fully-vaccinated adults.
Unvaccinated adults won’t be allowed into venues such as restaurants and non-essential retail outlets until December 1, when it’s hoped double-dose vaccine coverage is above the 90 per cent mark.