News, Culture & Society

Huge change to Covid rules in NSW as  Dominic Perrottet backflips and brings back tough restrictions

A booster shot will now be required to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ in high risk workplaces as NSW moves to restrict singing and dancing and suspend elective surgery to stem rising Covid infections. 

Premier Dominic Perrottet announced on Friday sweeping new restrictions which will come into effect from Saturday until at least January 27 in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus.

It comes after the state recorded 38,625 new Covid cases and 11 deaths overnight.

Residents have also been instructed to register their positive rapid antigen tests through Service NSW rather than queue for a PCR test. This option will be available on the app from next week.

Mr Perrottet was supported by chief health officer Kerry Chant as he thanked frontline staff for their tireless work over the last two years.

The Premier stopped short of cancelling all upcoming major events, saying it will be assessed on a case by case basis and only high risk events are at risk of being postponed.

Further Covid-19 restrictions have been introduced in NSW

He reassured the public the healthcare system was under pressure but not at risk of collapsing.

‘Even in a worst case scenario (based on new modelling) we have the capacity within our health system right now,’ Mr Perrottet said.

‘We have invested significantly… W have the best health system in the country if not around the world.’ 

The Premier didn’t mention any closure of nightclubs and venues, a restriction that was rumoured to have been discussed overnight. 

Dr Kerry Chant also reminded the public daily case numbers are undoubtedly an ‘underestimation’ – particularly as NSW moves further toward relying on rapid antigen tests instead of PCRs. 

The significant wind back of freedoms flies in the face of Premier Dominic Perrottet’s insistence the public needed to learn to live with the virus. 

Chair of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness, Professor Jane Halton, said the new restrictions were sensible given the rise in infections.

‘What we are trying to do now is manage this particular variant of the virus, and that means slowing its spread down,’ Prof Halton told the Nine Network on Friday.

‘This is very infectious, we know that, so people are going to have to be prudent for the next several weeks.’ 

Mr Perrottet said the testing system was at full capacity and it will take time to relieve the pressure as people adjust to new testing guidelines (pictured, healthcare workers administer PCR tests at St Vincent's Hospital drive-thru clinic, Bondi Beach, on New Year's Eve)

Mr Perrottet said the testing system was at full capacity and it will take time to relieve the pressure as people adjust to new testing guidelines (pictured, healthcare workers administer PCR tests at St Vincent’s Hospital drive-thru clinic, Bondi Beach, on New Year’s Eve)

Dominic Perrottet has long advocated the need to reopen the state and get the economy moving again in the face of rising cases numbers.

‘Ultimately, we not only need to learn to live alongside the virus, but live alongside the variants as well,’ he said.

‘This pandemic is not over. These variants will continue, cases will continue to rise and the best thing we can do to keep the community safe, keep your family safe is to go out and get vaccinated and get that booster shot when you can.’ 

He said ‘for the moment’ he intended to stick with the state’s plan as NSW could not be a ‘hermit kingdom on the other side of the world’.

But clearly the strategy has changed.

As of Friday, there are 1,738 people in hospital and 134 patients in intensive care units.   

Hospital rates have continued to climb in both NSW and Victoria but the number of patients in intensive care have remained steady

Hospital rates have continued to climb in both NSW and Victoria but the number of patients in intensive care have remained steady

Australian Medical Association NSW president Danielle McMullen said the cancellation of elective surgery was ‘yet another sign of a system in crisis’ and suspending surgeries was an ‘avoidable’ move that ‘will have profound consequences for patients’.

‘Elective surgery shouldn’t be a tap that government turns on and off to cover for serious cracks in our healthcare system,’ Dr McMullen says.

Chair of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness, Professor Jane Halton, said the new restrictions were sensible given the rise in infections.

‘What we are trying to do now is manage this particular variant of the virus, and that means slowing its spread down,’ Prof Halton told the Nine Network on Friday.

‘This is very infectious, we know that, so people are going to have to be prudent for the next several weeks.’

NEW COVID RULES COMING BACK IN NSW

NO STANDING AT VENUES: Venues will be discouraged from allowing ‘vertical consumption’ while drinking at bars.

 

ELECTIVE SURGERY SUSPENDED: The state has suspended elective surgery to relieve pressure on the hospital system.

BAN ON SINGING AND DANCING: Singing is set to be banned in ‘high-risk environments such as choirs – while dancing could also be off the cards.

NIGHTCLUB SHUTDOWN: Nightclubs could be forced to close in an effort to stop the spread of Omicron

MAJOR EVENTS POSTPONED: Major events would be risk-assessed by NSW Health and postponed if required.

 

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet made the changes after revealing Covid-19 testing sites are at capacity (pictured, people endure long queues for PCR tests in Sydney during January)

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet made the changes after revealing Covid-19 testing sites are at capacity (pictured, people endure long queues for PCR tests in Sydney during January)

Mr Perrottet said the testing system was at full capacity and it will take time to relieve the pressure as people adjust to new testing guidelines (pictured, healthcare workers administer PCR tests at St Vincent's Hospital drive-thru clinic, Bondi Beach, on New Year's Eve)

Mr Perrottet said the testing system was at full capacity and it will take time to relieve the pressure as people adjust to new testing guidelines (pictured, healthcare workers administer PCR tests at St Vincent’s Hospital drive-thru clinic, Bondi Beach, on New Year’s Eve)

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has backtracked on his call for calm that NSW would stay open despite surging Covid-19 case numbers

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has backtracked on his call for calm that NSW would stay open despite surging Covid-19 case numbers

NSW RESTRICTIONS TIMELINE 

December 3, 2021, NSW records Australia’s first local transmission: Omicron is detected in a Sydney school student

December 15, 2021, Dominic Perrottet scraps mask mandates, QR code check-ins and opens borders: International borders opened to skilled migrants, international students and working holidaymakers. Masks only required on public transport and planes, at airports. QR check-ins mandated for hospitals, pubs, gyms and major events.

December 24, 2021 Mask mandates and QR codes reintroduced: Mandated at indoor public settings excluding private homes.

December 27, 2021 Density Limits are brought back: Venues required to have a one person per two square metres rule

January 5 2022, Omicron goes rogue: Cases hit 35,000 as testing clinics buckle across the state due to high demand. Residents who test positive after a rapid antigen test are no longer required to get a PCR test to confirm result.

January 7 2022, Restrictions to be reintroduced: Dominic Perrottet begins talks to suspend elective surgery, ban singing and dancing in pubs 

 

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk