Restaurants and Bars to Reopen to Fully Vaccinated Patrons Once 70 Percent of NSW Is Jabbed

NSW Police Minister David Elliott has confirmed that the state is planning to allow pubs, restaurants and gyms to start welcoming in vaxxed customers when it reaches the 70-percent vaccination mark.
Sarah Ward
Published on August 22, 2021

Get the jab, get permission to head out of the house: that's a key part of New South Wales' COVID-19 strategy, as Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been talking up. And, while concrete details haven't yet been revealed, it looks like eating in at restaurants, pubs and bars — and working out at the gym, too — may be on the cards for folks who've had both jabs once NSW reaches the 70-percent fully vaccinated mark.

The state is currently experiencing its biggest COVID-19 outbreak of the pandemic, reporting 825 new local cases on Saturday, August 21 and breaking Australia's record in the process. Lockdowns and restrictions have been tightening in response, including across Greater Sydney, in Local Government Areas of concern and statewide. But, as well as containing the current spread, outlining how NSW emerges from its current stay-at-home rules has also become a prominent focus — with the Premier set to release a roadmap for moving forward sometime during the week beginning Monday, August 23.

Back in mid-July, this exact roadmap was also promised, outlining how Sydney would emerge from lockdown; however, as case numbers grew and stricter rules were put in place, it didn't emerge. Now, it appears set to be released, detailing what'll be possible for people who've had both shots — starting when the state reaches six million jabs, then expanding when 70 percent and then 80 percent of NSW residents are fully vaxxed. The latter two benchmarks fall in line with Australia's new overall 'National Plan to transition Australia's National COVID Response' that was announced in July.

Obviously, case numbers will still have an impact when it comes to whether these plans eventuate. At present, the state remains under lockdown until the end of September. But NSW Police Minister David Elliott told the Seven Network's Sunrise that allowing restaurants, bars, pubs and gyms to open to fully vaxxed NSW residents once the 70-percent target is reached is the plan. "That's something that a lot of people have been working very hard towards. We've got to make sure that we continue to encourage people to get the vaccine," the Minister said, noting that being able to go to the pub once you're jabbed should be a powerful motivation.

"It's something she's been working towards for quite some time," Elliott continued when asked if the Premier would be announcing the details soon. "We've been speaking to the hospitality industry, the AHA [Australian Hotels Association], Clubs NSW, restaurants... and it makes sense, it makes perfect sense. It's exactly what the British government did."

Exactly what that might mean in practical terms hasn't been revealed, but outdoor dining is likely to be a big feature, as it was in 2020 when NSW reopened after lockdowns. Also, vaccine passports may play a part, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing after Australia's last National Cabinet meeting on Friday, August 20 that work will now move forward regarding "incorporating the proof of vaccination status into existing state and territory check-in apps."

Wondering when the 70-percent target might be reached? Earlier this week, the Premier advised that "at this stage, those targets will be met at the end of October for 70-percent double dose and mid-November for 80-percent double dose." She continued: "Life will be much freer than what it is today once we get to 70 percent and 80 percent. It doesn't mean we'll be completely free. It doesn't mean that we will let the virus be rampant in the community no matter our number of cases, but it will be freer than it is today."

Again, exactly what double-vaxxed NSW residents will be allowed to do at the six-million jab mark, at 70-percent double doses and at the 80-percent fully vaccinated threshold hasn't yet been outlined in detail, and neither has the impact of rising daily case numbers. Getting haircuts has also been floated as a possibility, and the federal plan for the 70-percent mark includes letting jabbed folks out of lockdowns and border controls. At 80-percent fully vaxxed, the nationwide outline proposes allowing vaccinated people to travel overseas again without restrictions, too.

Cassandra Hannagan

Amid all of the discussion about opening back up, the Premier has also advised that the NSW Government does expect case numbers to remain high in September and October. That said, she still expects that there'll still be scope to ease some rules for vaccinated people — with encouraging folks to get vaccinated obviously a very big part of the strategy moving forward.

"What we need to do is to make sure that when we get to that 70-percent double dose in New South Wales and that 80-percent New South Wales double dose, that we try and he's gonna keep the case numbers as low as possible," the Premier said at the state's daily COVID-19 press conference on Saturday, August 21. "What we do also have to accept is how we actually talk about this disease moving forward. Once you get to 70-percent double doses, it will be a situation where the vaccine rate will be more critical than how many cases we have."

If you're wondering were you can get vaccinated, there's a handy online map that helps you find your nearest clinic. Australia's vaccination campaign is also expected to get a boost from Monday, August 30, when the Pfizer jab will open up to everyone aged 16–39 — and also from September, as that's when the recently approved Moderna vaccine will join the rollout.

For more information about the status of COVID-19 in NSW, head to the NSW Health website.

Published on August 22, 2021 by Sarah Ward
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