Premier Dominic Perrottet will reap the rewards of his predecessor’s Covid policies as he celebrates the end of lockdown in NSW.
He appeared alongside Stuart Ayres, Brad Hazzard and Victor Dominello – all key ministers in his cabinet – as he heralded in a new Covid normal.
NSW Health announced 477 new Covid cases and six deaths overnight. Five of the victims were not vaccinated while the other had received one dose.
‘It’s been a tough 100 days of blood, sweat and no beers,’ Mr Perrottet said. ‘But tomorrow will be a great day.’
The new Premier thanked residents for their efforts during the 106 days they’ve endured in lockdown, adding that NSW has ‘led the way out of lockdown’.
‘Yesterday we hit 90 per cent first dose… NSW is leading our country out of this pandemic,’ Mr Perrottet said.
‘Not just leading our country, but leading the world… And that’s been the secret to our success.’
Dr Chant’s failure to appear marks the second time in a week she has not been present for a milestone press conference, sparking concerns she did not approve of Mr Perrottet’s roadmap out of lockdown
A positive message will help to welcome hungry and thirsty customers back after lockdown eases in NSW on Monday
While she’s been a mainstay at press conferences the past four months, chief health officer Kerry Chant was not present.
But new Mr Perrottet appears content delivering his important messages without her, instead calling upon fellow ministers as he focuses on kickstarting the state’s economy.
Mr Ayres, who is the Minister for Jobs and Western Sydney, urged residents to continue getting vaccinated to allow the government to continue easing restrictions.
‘It’s not mission complete, we still have a long way to go,’ he said.
Mr Dominello helped to create the vaccine passport needed to enter premises in his role as Minister for Digital and Customer Service.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard has been a mainstay in press conferences for months.
The Premier and his ministers all urged the community to treat each other with kindness and patience as lockdown lifts.
Mr Perrottet said customers should treat every server as though they were their own neighbour’s son or daughter, indicating there would be ‘a lot of young people back at work for the first time in months’.
‘There will be challenges – young people pulling beers, serving coffees, offering table service… please treat people with respect,’ he said.
Apprentice hairdresser Jess Robertson prepares stock at the Wild Life Hair Sogo salon in Surry Hills
Hotel Manager Alex Marton prepares a bar area ahead of receiving patrons at the Kings Cross Hotel
Mr Perrottet on Thursday announced a revised strategy to reopen NSW and questions were raised about Dr Chant’s absence.
It’s the second time in a week Dr Chant hasn’t stood alongside Mr Perrottet – as she did with former Premier Gladys Berejiklian – sparking concerns she wasn’t on-board with his accelerated roadmap out of lockdown.
The Liberal Party insists Dr Chant supported the minor changes.
Any further changes to the roadmap will be carefully considered during cabinet meetings, including lifting the limit of 20-person reservations at 80 per cent double dosed.
‘We’re not making policy on the run here, we’ll think things through,’ he said.
Dr Chant stood side-by-side with former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian throughout the darkest days of the pandemic to keep the nation up to date about the virus’ spread in Australia’s largest state.
One reporter went as far to describe Dr Chant’s omission as ‘disrespectful’ and others questioned if she even endorsed the accelerated roadmap.
‘What does it say about your respect for Dr Kerry Chant when she’s lead us through this for the last two years and you wouldn’t invite her here today at your first major [press conference],’ one reporter asked.
‘It is a bit disrespectful isn’t it?’
Staff making sure they are fully stocked with alcohol and food as they prepare for reopening in Sydney on Monday
Mr Perrottet replied tersely: ‘Dr Chant is one of my favourite constituents in Epping. We have always had a great relationship.’
The reporter said it was reasonable during a health crisis to expect the chief health officer to attend major Covid press conferences.
‘Well, it’s also an economic crisis as well,’ a rattled Mr Perrottet replied. ‘As the new premier, we’re the elected officials.
‘The style might be different and changes will get made, but in my view we had a very constructive discussion last night and as the health minister has said, these changes are supported by the health team.’
After meeting with the crisis cabinet on Wednesday, when the state reached a 70 per cent double-dose vaccination milestone, Mr Perrottet announced the changes.
As part of the new plans, indoor gatherings will be capped at 10 people, not counting children under 12. Outdoor gatherings will be lifted to 30 people.
For weddings and funerals, 100 people can attend.
Newly-minted Premier Dominic Perrottet on Thursday announced a revised strategy to reopen NSW
Dr Chant stood side-by-side with former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian throughout the darkest days of the pandemic to keep the nation up to date about the virus’ spread in Australia’s largest state
NSW indoor swimming pools will also be able to open for lessons, training and rehabilitation activities.
Restrictions will ease further when 80 per cent of the adult population is fully jabbed, expected around October 25.
That’s when 3,000 people will be allowed at ticketed outdoor events and nightclubs can reopen, but without dancing.
Masks also won’t be required in office buildings in an attempt to encourage workers back into Sydney’s CBD.
These reduced restrictions will apply only for the fully vaccinated until December 1, when freedoms are restored for the unvaccinated.
Dr Chant appeared nervous about the accelerated re-opening as she urged ‘caution’ among the state’s residents ahead of the first stage of restriction easing.
But picnic hotspots turned into boozy moshpits in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and northern beaches overnight as residents risked fines to celebrate Freedom Day early.
Hundreds gathered by the water at Bondi and Manly on Saturday night to party ahead of Covid restrictions being relaxed on Monday for double-jabbed residents.
Sweeping up in all the nooks and crannies to make sure everything is spotless before NSW starts to open up again
Massive crowds flocked to ‘The Office’ in Manly – a popular waterfront spot near the wharf – where music was blasting and an impromptu dance floor was set up.
Revellers were filmed crammed together and maskless as they belted out ABBA songs with drinks in tow while some were reported urinating.
Similar scenes occurred at Bondi beach, after police were forced to disperse huge crowds who began congregating throughout the day.
A number of move-on directions were given to residents while no fines were issued despite public health orders being in place until Monday.
Under Covid-19 restrictions only groups of five fully-vaccinated adults are allowed to gather outdoors until the state’s stay-at-home orders are eased on October 11.
Residents turned up to celebrate Freedom Day early after NSW hit its 70 per cent vaccination target this week
Hundreds of revellers have flocked to Manly beach on Saturday (pictured) just days shy of the state’s scheduled Freedom Day
Revised roadmap to freedom: All the changes for fully vaccinated NSW residents after hitting 70% jab target
Former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s freedom plan will kick off after the state hits 70 per cent of adults double dosed
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.