NSW records 496 new local COVID-19 cases and eight deaths as restrictions ease

Businesses across New South Wales have been allowed to welcome fully vaccinated customers from midnight.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet receives a hair cut as lockdown restrictions ease.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet receives a hair cut as lockdown restrictions ease. Source: NCA NEWSWIRE POOL

New South Wales has recorded 496 new local COVID-19 cases and eight deaths, as lockdown restrictions ended for the fully vaccinated on Monday.

Some 769 people are hospitalised, with 153 people receiving intensive care. 

Two new cases were recorded in hotel quarantine.

Of the eight deaths, six were men and two women. 

Some 83,498 tests were processed in the 24 hours to 8pm Sunday.

Lockdown restrictions were lifted for fully vaccinated residents across NSW this morning, after the state surpassed the 70 per cent double-dose vaccination milestone last week. 

Gyms, cafes, restaurants, shops and hairdressers have reopened and people can now travel more than five kilometres from home.

Indoor and outdoor gatherings are permitted, with caps increased to 10 and 30 people respectively.

People who are not fully vaccinated effectively remain locked down until December.

“Everyone today should give themselves a pat on the back and celebrate all the efforts and sacrifices they made because we're here today because of you,” Premier Dominic Perrottet said.  

Speaking from Watson's pub in Moore Park, Mr Perrottet said there was “no doubt” case numbers and hospitalisations, which have been steadily declining, will rise again now that public health measures have been relaxed.

But he said significant investments had been made in the health system to cope with the extra demand.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole enjoy a beer at Watsons Pub.
Source: AAP

“There will be challenges but our state is poised and ready,” he said.

“We need to learn to live alongside the virus … [and] today, New South Wales is the first state to be doing just that. We are leading the nation out of this pandemic.”

“But I have to keep making the point, there's still restrictions in place. It's not a free for all.”

The premier warned the state still needed to keep up the momentum in its vaccination rollout.

“We still need to get that double dose vaccination rate up and that first dose up and the faster we do that, the more we can open up in a safe way,” he told reporters.

“That's that best way to keep yourself safe, your family safe, your friends safe.”

NSW Premier welcomes 'Freedom Day' after over 100 days in lockdown

If the current vaccination rates are maintained, NSW will reach the 80 per cent double dose vaccination milestone on 18 October.

Restrictions, including mask mandates, would then ease further seven days later on the following Monday, under the current roadmap.

Mr Perrottet wouldn’t be drawn on whether that date would be brought forward to coincide with the milestone.

“I won't make policy on the run. We'll do things in a considered way,” he said.

Calls for patience

Mr Perrottet urged residents to be patient as the state emerges from lockdown amid concerns customer-facing staff could be at risk of abuse from rebuffed unvaccinated people.

As the lockdown ends, a "lockout" of the unvaccinated comes into place, with only those who are fully vaccinated able to enjoy the restored freedoms.

Business owners and hospitality staff are nervous that the risk of virus transmission is still high, alongside the risk of abuse from customers.

“I ask again everyone right across our state to treat everyone with kindness and respect, take personal responsibility, there's no doubt there will be teething issues but there will be many young cafe workers, who will be doing this for the first time and adjusting to a new system,” Mr Perrottet said.

Mr Perrottet denied business owners had been left out on a limb when it came to dealing with people angry at being denied entry and in-venue service.

Clear guidelines have been issued in terms of training staff and signage, the premier added. The state's Service NSW app-based vaccination passport is also yet to be rolled out, but residents can use the Medicare app to show proof of vaccination.

The United Workers Union, which represents essential frontline and public-facing workers, is concerned staff could face unsafe situations and has called for clearer, binding rules for bosses to protect staff.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller on Monday said police officers would address issues if needed.

Diners sit a a cafe following 108 days of lockdown at Bronte in Sydney, Monday, October 11, 2021.
Source: AAP

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said the lifting of restrictions would deliver a significant boost to the state’s economy.

“We know the restrictions have cost the economy about $1 billion a week. That's a huge amount of money,” he said.

“As we come out of these restrictions, that number is expected to halve.”

The reopening would mean more than just the impact on “bricks and mortar” businesses, according to Business NSW CEO Daniel Hunter.

“We're talking about people and people's lives. It's time for us to heal, to get back to some better financial wellbeing, and honestly the mental health and wellbeing of people, business owners, and staff,” he said.

International borders

Mr Perrottet also said discussions were underway with the federal government to bring forward the resumption of international travel to the state - with seven days of home quarantine for the fully vaccinated - as soon as early November.

“We can't live here like a hermit kingdom on the other side of the world, we want returning Australians to come back,” he said.

“If New South Wales can play a role in helping other states bring their Australians home too, we want to be part of that and we'll work with the other states and territories.”

He said the state was eager to welcome back tourists, workers and international students.

“No one is going to come into Sydney, as great as it is, or New South Wales, in circumstances where we've got to sit in a hotel for two weeks and not leave.”

“We're in best city in the best state in the best country in the world and we rely on tourism. We need tourism back.”

With AAP

Published 11 October 2021 at 9:13am, updated 11 October 2021 at 12:02pm
By Naveen Razik
Source: SBS News