Millions in New South Wales are finally waking up to their first day of freedom after 106 gruelling days in coronavirus lockdown, with pubs, restaurants, hair salons, shops and gyms finally able to fling open their doors.
The beleaguered state shattered its 70 per cent Covid-19 vaccination target for over-16s last week, opening the door for most businesses to return to trade on Monday at 12.01am.
Friends and family cut off by the 5km bubble will also be reunited at long last, with up to ten visitors allowed in homes – and 30 able to meet up outdoors.
Many were so keen to thrown off the shackles of lockdown that they queued in the rain across Sydney on Sunday night to get a first taste of freedom – be that a cold beer in the pub, a fresh haircut at the salon or even some bargain shopping at Kmart.
Kmart stores in Blacktown and Mt Druitt saw dozens of shoppers queueing before midnight in lines which snaked 50m from the entrance, while revellers in the city’s pubs were greeted with champagne at the door.
Hairdresser Alan Buki is seen at his salon in Sydney’s Paddington tending to an eager client early on Monday morning (pictured), having decided to open at midnight due to overwhelming demand
Dozens of shoppers queue for Canterbury Leagues Club at midnight on Sunday wasting no time as NSW moves out of lockdown after 106 days stuck at home
WHAT CAN I DO TODAY?
If you’ve had both shots of the vaccine you can now travel beyond the 5km bubble.
Sydneysiders can now move about anywhere across the Harbour City as far as the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, or Shellharbour.
Those living in regional areas are free to travel throughout the state.
But intrastate travel between Sydney and regional areas is still a no-go.
DRINKING AND GOING OUT:
Double-dosed residents can now head back to the pub with the one person per sq/m rule in place.
Dancing and standing up indoors is still banned, with nightclubs keeping their doors shut
SEEING FRIENDS AND FAMILY:
You can also have up to 10 friends inside their home or gather with 30 outdoors.
Your are now free to get a table at your favourite café or restaurant with the one person per sq/m rule also in place.
Again, only the fully-vaccinated are allowed
Gyms are now open to the fully vaccinated with up to 20 people allowed to workout indoors or in a class.
You can once again browse your favourite shops with retail stores allowed to operate under the one person per sq/m rule.
Catch a movie at the cinema with all indoor entertainment facilities allowed to trade at 75 per cent capacity.
This means theatres are also open, as are museums.
BEAUTY AND HAIR:
Personal services like haircuts are also permitted with five people allowed in the salon.
Nail salons, barbers and massage parlors will also be open.
With only double-dosed residents allowed to enter non-essential venues in NSW, police set up a late-night roadblock along Parramatta Road as well as other main routes into the city to prevent unvaccinated lockdown rule breakers from heading into the CBD to join the festivities.
It’s been a particularly miserable three and half months for the coronavirus-ravaged Harbour City with residents subject to harsh restrictions including the 5km travel bubble and even curfews in parts of the heavy-hit west.
But with horror winter months in the rear view mirror and the state prepared to ‘live with the virus’, it’s now party time once again.
A staff member at Sydney’s Tattersalls club in the CBD even welcomed patrons inside by popping a champagne bottle as the clock struck midnight.
Ecstatic revellers had smiles from ear to ear as they rushed inside, proudly flashing their digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate at the door to gain entry.
In the west, dozens of excited locals arrived en masse at Canterbury Leagues Club with huge lines sprawling way out into the parking lot.
Back in inner city Paddington, demand was so high for Alan Buki’s salon that he too opted to open at midnight, welcoming in a string of patrons ready for a fresh cut.
Newly-appointed premier Dominic Perrottet said on Sunday that after the trauma of the past three and a half months his government will do ‘everything in its power’ to avoid another lockdown.
But as droves of eager fully-vaccinated citizens flock to restaurants, pubs, cafes, gyms, retails stores, events and the sorely missed hairdressers, many in the medical community are warning that NSW is not ‘out of the woods yet’ and that the reopening could be a situation where it’s ‘one step forward, two steps back’.
Face masks are no longer mandatory outdoors, with the exception of hospitality workers actively serving customers, but still must be worn inside except when eating or drinking.
Double-jabbed residents will now be able to venture more than 5km from their home with Sydneysiders able to travel and even holiday anywhere across the Harbour City and even as far as the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, or Shellharbour.
Those outside of Sydney are also free to move about but intrastate travel is still off the cards between regional areas and Sydney until the state reaches the 80 per cent fully-vaccinated rate.
Under the eased restrictions, ten double-dosed visitors are now allowed in the home with 30 permitted to gather outdoors.
Ousted state leader Gladys Berejiklian’s original roadmap had previously set the cap at five indoors and 20 outside, however just 24 hours after being sworn into office Mr Perrottet made the call to increase the capacity limits.
He also doubled the number of vaccinated guests permitted to attend weddings and funerals with 100 people able to take part in the ceremony, but they must remain seated when eating and drinking.
Gyms, cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars, non-essential retail, libraries and churches can operate under the one person per 4sqm rule but nightclubs will remain closed.
Hairdressers and beauticians can also welcome back vaccinated clients but are restricted to a maximum of five in the premises at one time.
Gyms can open with up to 20 clients per class, while stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos can have up to 5,000 visitors.
Indoor entertainment facilities such as cinemas, theatres, music halls, museums and galleries can reopen with one person per 4sqm or 75 per cent fixed seated capacity.
Further restrictions will be eased later this month once NSW hits 80 per cent vaccination, before freedoms open up to the unvaccinated from December 1.
A hairdresser is seen at Sydney’s Alan Buki salon in Paddington, which opened its doors at midnight on Sunday to a string of excited customers
A woman shows her proof of vaccination as she enters the Sydney City Tattersalls Club just after midnight on Monday morning as the state moves out of lockdown
Dozens of eager shoppers wait outside Kmart in Blacktown (pictured) as the department store re-opens its doors at 12.01am on Monday
Greater Sydney was plunged into lockdown on June 25 after a string of coronavirus cases in the Bondi area were linked to a limo driver ferrying international flight crew.
Health authorities drastically underestimated the speed at which the Delta variant would tear through the Harbour City with infections quickly becoming too much for the state’s contact tracers to handle.
Since the first known case on June 16 there have been 62,847 locally acquired transmission resulting in 487 deaths.
At its height the daily case number reached a spike of 1,573, prompting harsher measures were brought in across Western Sydney, including curfews, to try and stop the spread.
As supplies of Pfizer eventually started to roll in, the state’s vaccination pace skyrocketed and those soaring case rates have now dropped to below 500 cases a day.
Mates are seen enjoying late night drinks and snacks as several Sydney venues opted to open at midnight to excited crowds (pictured, Sydney’s Tattersalls Club just after midnight)
Sydneysiders are already in party mode across the city with select pubs opening at 12.01am on Monday morning as New South Wales moves out of its 106-day lockdown (pictured, Sydney’s Tattersalls club in the CBD after the clock struck midnight)
Hairdressers are allowed to open as of 12.01am on Monday with a maximum of four customers at a time, prompting some to make an early booking at Paddington’s Alan Buki salon (pictured just after midnight)
As of Sunday, 73.53 per cent of the population over 16 are fully-vaccinated in NSW, with a staggering 90.33 per cent already receiving their first dose.
But while cooped up residents and long-suffering businesses are ready to get into the swing of things after the grim lockdown period, the state’s vaccine passport system is still not finished.
Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello had announced the VaxPass linked to the Service NSW app would be ready for trial on October 6 and able to launch statewide once the 70 per cent target was achieved.
However due to a delay in NSW’s access to federal government immunisation data the technology was delayed and the first trial will begin from Monday with up to 500 fully vaccinated residents in Tamworth, Port Macquarie, Wagga Wagga and Lismore piloting the QR Code program in participating venues which include aged care facilities, clubs, and taxis.
Sydneysiders are seen enjoying their first taste of freedom after midnight hit on Monday morning (pictured at Sydney’s Tattersalls Club)
Cafes and restaurants prepare for their re-openings on Sunday as NSW wakes to Freedom Day on Monday (pictured Sambandha Nepalese restaurant in Auburn, western Sydney)
New South Wales residents are finally waking up to their first day of freedom after 106 gruelling days in coronavirus lockdown (pictured new Premier Dominic Perrottet at the Marsden Brewhouse on Sunday)
For everyone else in NSW who has had the jab, they will need to prove their vaccination status by showing their Covid-19 digital certificate in the Medicare Express app.
But the complicated process has left many people fuming.
In order to show you’ve had the jab, you must first access the MyGov app or website which you can then link to your Medicare information.
From there you can click on Proof of Vaccinations followed by the Covid-19 digital certificate tab which can be uploaded to smartphone wallets.
Showing this at the entrance to venues and events will allow you to gain entry but with so many different loggings and apps to go through to find the digital pass, droves of people on social media have been unable to link MyGov and Medicare.
Police are seen patrolling Sydney’s Tattersalls Club after midnight, ensuring Covid rules were being followed and all patrons were fully vaccinated (pictured)
Patrons queue outside Sydney City Tattersalls Club as it opened 12.01am on Monday morning as New South Wales moves out of lockdown after more than 100 days at home
Hotel Manager Alex Marton prepares a bar area ahead of receiving patrons at the Kings Cross Hotel from Monday when lockdown restrictions ease
‘So uh, one thing this thread has discovered is that MyGov and the Medicare app have an interoperability issue around conflicts of middle names: adding only an initial in one app and adding the full middle name in the other app causes it to return an error,’ one person wrote.
Another said: ‘I haven’t met a single person who has successfully been able to link MyGov and Medicare without calling the helpline.’
Those without a smartphone are urged to contact Services Australia for a non-digital option.
Opposition spokesperson for Customer Service NSW Yasmin Catley slammed the state government for not having the technology ready for the rollout.
Huge queues of people waited at bars across Sydney and New South Wales with a select few opening their doors at 12:01am on Monday morning with the state moving out of lockdown (pictured, Canterbury Leagues club just before midnight)
The 24/7 Kmart in Blacktown swung open its doors at 12.01am on Monday morning with dozens of keen shoppers waiting in the rain outside
QR codes will remain at all venues across the state with people needing to show proof of vaccination in order to enter pubs, cafes, restaurants and retail buildings
‘With our state about to reopen, businesses need certainty on when the app will be available and what steps they must take to ensure compliance with the public health orders,’ she said.
‘This app should have been ready to roll out from Monday, instead businesses will be waiting weeks.
The NSW government was thrown into chaos just over a week ago when Ms Berejiklian was forced to step down as leader after it was revealed she’s at the centre of an ICAC corruption probe.
Another familiar face chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant has also largely been sidelined by the incoming leader after reports emerged she was against his plan to tinker with the roadmap out of lockdown.
For everyone else in NSW who has had the jab, they will need to prove their vaccination status by showing their Covid-19 digital certificate in the Medicare Express app (pictured: Workers cleaning tables at Sambandha Nepalese restaurant)
Nobu kitchen staff prepare the popular Japanese restaurant ahead of its re-opening on Monday with bookings flooding in
Sydney’s new Crown Casino prepares to open on Monday with a series of restaurants lining the hotel and gaming hub
WHEN DO I HAVE TO WEAR A MASK IN NSW?
Rules for mask wearing from Monday in NSW:
All people over the age of 12 must wear a face mask in:
– Indoor areas (for example, shopping or in a library)
– Indoor areas of common property in apartment buildings
– At public transport waiting areas
– While on public transport
– While working at a hospitality venue dealing directly with patrons
– On an aircraft when flying above NSW and in the airport
Masks are no longer mandatory outside
But Mr Perrottet insists the modest changes are safe and will allow the state to get back on its feet after devastating impact of the prolonged shut down.
‘The vaccination rates… across Sydney have been phenomenal and that protects us from ever having to go back [into lockdown], but we need to continue to open in a safe way,’ he said.
‘Ultimately now, we are in a position with high vaccination rates that the people of NSW have ensured that we can live safely alongside the virus.’
But not everyone is convinced, with nations including Israel and Singapore forced to reinstate harsh restrictions after opening up despite having some of the highest vaccination rates in the world.
‘NSW is now in a much better position than we were a few weeks ago but we are not out of the woods yet, Dr Danielle McMullen NSW President of the Australian Medical Association told the Today Show.
‘We really need to make sure our government and particularly our population understand that we really need a careful cautious return to normal.’
Keen patrons queued outside City Tatts on Sunday night to get a drink and attend the gaming stations when the venue re-opened at 12:01am on Monday morning
According to the Doherty Institute, for a medium seeding situation beginning at a 70 per cent full vaccination level with low restrictions and partial testing, tracing and isolation, infections nationwide are predicted to peak at about 65,000 per day after 85 days, with deaths peaking at about 100 per day after 100 days.
The Argyle in Sydney’s The Rocks prepares to open its doors on Monday as the city breaks free from its 100+ day lockdown
Easts in Bondi Junction were one of the first venues to declare they’d be open from midnight. ‘Be the first to see your mates and have a cold beer! We can’t wait to see you again,’ a spokesman wrote in a social media post
Professor of infectious disease modelling and epidemiology at James Cook University Emma McBryde agrees cases are likely to rise, but is optimistic hospitalisations will stay low if the right health policies are in place.
‘When NSW relaxes restrictions and allows more movement, and opens up retail there will be significantly more cases,’ Ms McBryde said.
‘But the actual number of cases is no longer the biggest concern. That’s something you track closely when you are aiming for Covid zero.
‘When we thought there was no way of keeping Covid out, the whole point of lockdowns was to keep case numbers low enough to reduce the burden on our hospital system until a vaccine arrived.
‘The key metrics now will be how many deaths there are, how many hospitalisations and the intensive care unit capacities.’
Revised roadmap to freedom: All the changes for fully vaccinated NSW residents after hitting 70% jab target
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s revised freedom plan will kick off on Monday, October 11
Gatherings in the home and public spaces
· Up to ten visitors will be allowed in a home where all adults are vaccinated (not including children 12 and under).
· Up to 30 people can gather in outdoor settings.
Venues including hospitality, retail stores and gyms
· Hospitality venues can reopen subject to one person per 4sqm inside and one person per 2sqm outside, with standing while drinking permitted outside.
· Retail stores can reopen under the one person per 4sqm rule (unvaccinated people will continue to only be able to access critical retail).
· Personal services such as hairdressers and nail salons can open with one person per 4sqm, capped at five clients per premises.
· Gyms and indoor recreation facilities can open under the one person per 4sqm rule and can offer classes for up to 20 people.
· Sporting facilities including swimming pools can reopen.
Stadiums, theatres and major outdoor recreation facilities
· Major recreation outdoor facilities including stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos can reopen with one person per 4sqm, capped at 5,000 people.
· Up to 500 people can attend ticketed and seated outdoor events.
· Indoor entertainment and information facilities including cinemas, theatres, music halls, museums and galleries can reopen with one person per 4sqm or 75 per cent fixed seated capacity.
· Indoor swimming pools open for lessons, squad training, lap swimming and rehab activities only
Weddings, funerals and places of worship
· Up to 100 guests can attend weddings, with dancing permitted and eating and drinking only while seated.
· Up to 100 guests can attend funerals, with eating and drinking while seated.
· For those not fully vaccinated lower caps of 5 and ten apply for weddings and funerals.
· Churches and places of worship to open subject to one person per 4sqm rule, with performers exempt from ban on singing.
· Ten person cap on choirs in places of worship and at religious services, with all performers to be fully vaccinated
· The 5km radius will be dropped but Sydneysiders can only travel within greater Sydney – including the Central Coast, Wollongong and Blue Mountains.
· Caravan parks and camping grounds can open.
· Carpooling will be permitted.
Non-vaccinated young people aged under 16 will be able to access all outdoor settings but will only be able to visit indoor venues with members of their household.
Employers must continue to allow employees to work from home if the employee is able to do so.
There will be revised guidance on isolation for close and casual contacts who are fully vaccinated, with details to be provided closer to the reopening date.
· Masks will remain mandatory for all indoor public venues, including public transport, front-of-house hospitality, retail and business premises, on planes and at airports.
· Only hospitality staff will be required to wear a mask when outdoors.
· Children aged under 12 will not need to wear a mask indoors.