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NSW ‘leads country out of pandemic’ as lockdown ends for vaccinated residents

ASSA | 2021-10-11 09:28:55

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has called for patience and respect as the state ‘leads the country out of this pandemic’.

After 106 days, almost 63,000 COVID-19 cases and 431 deaths, stay-at-home orders have lifted across NSW.

Having surpassed the 70 per cent double-dose vaccination milestone early last week, gyms, cafes, restaurants, pools, shops, hairdressers and beauticians will reopen from Monday and people will be allowed to venture more than five kilometres from home.

But as lockdown ends for some, a “lockout” of the unvaccinated begins; only those fully vaccinated will be able to enjoy the new freedoms.

Business owners and hospitality staff are nervous the risk of transmission is high, and the risk of abuse even higher.

Perrottet acknowledged problems are inevitable, but urged the state’s residents to show patience, kindness and respect.

“It is a major step and there’s going to be challenges as we go through this period,” the premier told Sunrise on Monday.

“I think we are the first state in the country that’s got this system in place as we open up, so I just ask everybody to be patient, treat everyone with kindness and respect, you will have a lot of young people pulling beers, serving tables.

“There will be challenges here as we work through it, but I think everybody across the state is pretty excited for what’s been a long 100 days.”

Perrottet said the end of lockdown was down to “the efforts of everyone across NSW” - with the state’s single-dose vaccination rate hitting 90 per cent over the weekend - and anticipates the days of lockdowns are over.

“We set out from the start with vaccination being key to us opening up, and to be on track with everybody making those efforts to get the second dose for the 90 per cent of people who’ve already gone down that path, then I don’t believe we need to go backwards,” he said.

“We followed the federal government’s national plan and that means at times there may be the need for targeted restrictions on certain places, there may be cases with a school or certain local areas that we might need to target some restrictions if case numbers increase at certain times, but in terms of statewide lockdowns I think they will be a thing of the past.”

He said police were not going to be walking through business premises asking for proof of vaccination status - instead the government was asking “people to use common sense and look after each other.”

He rejected concerns business owners have been left out on a limb when it comes to dealing with angry people denied service.

“If people feel unsafe as an individual business, they can call the police,” the premier said.

Workers anxious about reopening

Sydney bartender Lucy is one of those anxious about being on the frontline when stay-at-home orders cease and people flood the pubs.

The venue where the 34-year-old works will not be hiring a security guard to cut costs after months without trading, so other staff will be responsible for checking patrons’ vaccination status and making sure they follow safety measures.

“A lot of people are angry about having to get vaccinated and I worry they will try to make a point at the door,” Lucy told AAP.

She’s keen to return to work having been stood down during each of the state’s lockdowns, but also feels exposed as the Delta variant continues to circulate throughout the city.

“I definitely feel at risk,” she said.

“I worry a lot of the pubs will be environments where the virus can spread pretty easily.”

The United Workers Union, which represents essential frontline and public-facing workers, has expressed concern that staff checking vaccination status will be put in unsafe situations, calling for clear binding rules on bosses to protect staff as well as penalties for non-compliance.

From Monday, indoor and outdoor gatherings will also be permitted, with caps increased last week to 10 and 30 people respectively.

However the unvaccinated remain locked down until December.

“It’s been 100 days of blood, sweat and no beers but we’re back in action tomorrow,” Perrottet told reporters on Sunday.

“NSW is leading the country out of this pandemic.”