Lismore will be plunged into lockdown from midnight on Sunday, just one week before New South Wales’ long-awaited ‘Freedom Day’.
The stay-at-home orders, brought in after a string of worrying Covid cases in the region, will give locals just over six hours to get ready.
Anyone who has travelled to the LGA since September 28 will also be subject to the lockdown measures which will kicks in at 11:59pm on Sunday.
Pictured: A queue of people are lined up to get tested for Covid-19 at the Lismore Base Hospital
Lismore LGA (pictured from above) will be plunged into lockdown from midnight on Sunday
‘Everyone in this area must stay at home unless it is for an essential reason, which includes shopping for food, medical care, getting vaccinated, compassionate needs, exercise and work or tertiary education if you can’t work or study at home,’ NSW Health said in a statement.
‘We urge people throughout NSW to continue to come forward for testing at the first sign of even mild symptoms. To find your nearest clinic visit COVID-19 clinics or contact your GP.’
Lismore is now the sixth regional community to be thrust back into lockdown after having restrictions lifted just weeks ago.
Muswellbrook in the Upper Hunter, Port Macquarie on the Mid-North Coast and Oberon and Cowra in the Central Tablelands and Casino on the North Coast, have also had the harsh measures re-imposed following the emergence of new infections.
NSW recorded 667 new locally acquired Covid cases on Sunday with a further 10 more deaths – six women and four men.
Although it remains unclear how many positive cases have been uncovered in Lismore, there were six infections recorded in the past 24 hours in the entire Northern NSW LHD which also takes in large regional areas like the Tweed, the Byron Shire and Grafton.
Residents of Lismore were given just over six hours notice their community would once again be subject to lockdown restrictions
It remains unclear how many cases were reported in Lismore (pictured) but there were a total of six Covid infection on the entire North Coast
But with 88.1 per cent off the population over 16 already receiving their first dose of the vaccine and 66.5 per cent double-jabbed, the entire state is finally set to emerge from lockdown on October 11 after months of gruelling restrictions.
The 70 per cent vaccination milestone will signal that double-dosed residents can return to some normality with pubs, cafes, restaurants, gyms and retail story throwing open their doors.
‘We will probably reach the 70 per cent double dose vaccinations by probably mid this week. That means the following Monday is the date that we have our first removal of the restrictions,’ Health Minister Brad Hazzard said on Sunday.
‘That is a really big day for all of us who have lived through the agony of this pandemic.’
NSW has recorded 667 locally Covid cases as the state’s vaccination rates continue to rise. Pictured: A person runs along the coastal park at Bondi Beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs on September 24
Pictured: workers wearing protective equipment at the Manly Waves Studio and Apartments in Sydney on September 29
Sydney is expected to open up on October 11, the Monday after 70 per cent of the population have been fully vaccinated. Pictured: People picnic in Double Bay on Saturday after Covid restrictions were eased
Mr Hazzard finally clarified the role police will have in enforcing bans on residents not vaccinated against Covid from entering most businesses.
‘The police role will be if someone has come into for example a retail outlet or a hotel and are not presenting evidence as is required of their vaccination, then of course the business proprietor or person on behalf of the business will call the police,’ he said.
‘I don’t think we as a community would expect, the police to be at every facility or every restaurant or retail shop. That is not what they do.’
Although the state roadmap out of lockdown hangs in the balance after Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s shock resignation on Friday following news she will be the subject of a corruption probe by ICAC, it is highly likely the 70 and 80 per cent targets will remain as marker for ending the restrictions.
Mr Hazzard said the state’s Covid roadmap would not be changed by new leadership, but admitted the government was ‘sorting out’ some issues.
‘In the last 24-48 hours I had discussions with a number of senior ministers about a number of health issues,’ he said.
NSW Health Chief officer Dr Kerry Chant said she could not comment on her feelings towards Ms Berejiklian’s resignation, but commended her efforts leading NSW through the pandemic
‘We are focused on trying to make sure that our – our government is focused on making sure the community stays safe.
‘This roadmap is part of that work and commitment and it will be only subject to change if the health advice is such that should be changed.’
As case numbers continue to drop, Mr Hazzard urged fans to act responsibly ahead of the NRL Grand Final that will be held at Brisbane’s Lang Park Stadium on Sunday.
The massive sporting event is expected to draw in tens of thousands of spectators with thousands more to watch the match from their televisions in NSW.
‘All the hard work that we have done, to have gone from 1599 cases just three weeks ago to 667 cases today has taken a lot of hard work. Please don’t ruin that,’ he said.
‘This is a game that we all must win. We have to make sure that this virus does not get a hold and get back in the numbers that it can do very easily if we ignore the rules that our public health team have given us to keep us safe.’
Roadmap to freedom: All the changes for fully vaccinated NSW residents after hitting 70% jab target
Gatherings in the home and public spaces
· Up to five visitors will be allowed in a home where all adults are vaccinated (not including children 12 and under).
· Up to 20 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.
Weddings, funerals and places of worship
· Up to 50 guests can attend weddings, with dancing permitted and eating and drinking only while seated.
· Up to 50 guests can attend funerals, with eating and drinking while seated.
· Churches and places of worship to open subject to one person per 4sqm rule, with no singing.
· Domestic travel, including trips to regional NSW, will be permitted.
· 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.