Gladys Berejiklian will no longer hold daily Covid-19 press conferences in a symbolic move as she transitions NSW towards living with the virus – despite peak hospitalisations expected next month.
The Premier said health officials would still provide daily case numbers ‘indefinitely’ in a video message but from now on she would only front the media when she had ‘something important to say’.
Ms Berejiklian denied she was ‘going into hiding’, saying: ‘All of us have to start accepting that we need to live with Covid because Covid would be around for three or four years.’
NSW recorded 1,542 new locally acquired cases of Covid-19 on Friday as the premier warned cases will peak next week.
The state also suffered nine Covid-19 deaths but some small freedoms will be restored to millions of Sydneysiders as planned on Monday.
Residents in 12 LGAs of concern – who are subject to a 9pm-5am curfew – will be able to gather outdoors with their household members for two hours per day as long as all over 18s in the group are fully vaccinated.
Those in other areas are allowed outdoor gatherings of up to five vaccinated adults plus children under 12 for an unlimited time, provided it is within their LGA or 5km of their home.
Sydney residents wear face masks as they go about their daily lives in Waterloo, Sydney, with lockdown set to finally end in October
Two Sydney residents exercise in Coogee. Ms Berejiklian has warned that Covid cases will peak next month
‘If you live within an LGA of concern, obviously you can exercise unlimited but if you have vaccinated your household can go out for a picnic or recreation for two hours every day in addition to the exercise,’ the premier said.
Ms Berejiklian warned that cases were rising in Canterbury-Bankstown in Sydney’s south west and urged residents there to be extra cautious.
She defended her decision to stop daily pressers even with the full impact of the virus yet to it, and a time when the rate of vaccinations showed signs of slowing over the past week.
‘The public want to hear from me and others but when we have something to say, apart from repeating the numbers that health repeats,’ she said.
‘It might be three times a week instead of seven times a week but the message is we will speak every time there is something important to say and I am accountable 24/7 every day of the week.’
NSW Labor leader Chris Minns opposed the move and said he needed to hear her speak daily.
‘Now more than ever we need to be hearing daily from the government. By the government’s own admission, NSW is weeks away from cases peaking, hospitalisations and ICU numbers peaking, the roadmap out for western Sydney. We need to be hearing from the Premier every day,’ he said.
Since the start of the pandemic, NSW has suffered 40,427 Covid-19 cases and 216 deaths.
It comes as a border bubble with Queensland restarts for 12 regional NSW areas that are being released from lockdown, allowing students and essential workers with one vaccine dose to enter the Sunshine state from 1am on Monday.
Vaccination numbers are already starting to wane heavily in NSW with a 15.8 per cent drop in vaccinations in just the past week
NSW Health administered 31,835 Covid-19 vaccines in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, including 7,784 at the vaccination centre at Sydney Olympic Park.
Of the 1,542 locally acquired cases reported to 8pm last night, 506 are from South Western Sydney Local Health District and 402 are from Western Sydney LHD.
Ms Berejiklian said vaccination rates were down on last month because many people who were jabbed in August had been forced to wait eight weeks for their second dose of Pfizer to get more first doses into arms earlier.
On Thursday the premier unveiled the state government’s long-awaited roadmap out of lockdown, which has seen Sydneysiders living under stay at home orders for almost 12 weeks.
Under the plan pubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms, retail stores and personal services like hair salons will be able to throw open their doors to the double vaccinated, with the one person per 4sqm rule enforced indoors and the one person per 2sqm rule adhered to outdoors.
Customers and patrons will need to prove their vaccination status when they scan in via QR code using the Service NSW app.
Weddings and funerals can also go ahead with a limit with a 50-person cap on guests, along with religious services.
New South Wales has been leading the way forward on jab rates and is on track to hit the target marker by October 18 – a date which has tentatively been set by the Berejiklian government as ‘Freedom Day’ for the fully vaccinated
It comes as a border bubble with Queensland restarts for 12 regional NSW areas that are being released from lockdown, allowing students and essential workers with one vaccine dose to enter the Sunshine state from 1am on Monday. Pictured: Families hug across the border on Fathers’ Day
Up to five guests will be allowed in the home, with gathering of 20 permitted outdoors.
Sporting events will also be given the green light but under the one person per 4sqm rule with a limit of 5000 spectators, while cinemas will be able to operate at 75 per cent capacity.
Those who refuse to get the jab will not be granted access to the same freedoms and only allowed to attend essential venues such as supermarkets.
But it all hinges on Australians continuing to line up and get the jab. NSW will almost definitely meet the 70 per cent target because 76 per cent have already had their first dose.
A NSW Health worker speaks with staff inside the Common Ground Towers social housing estate at Camperdown in Sydney
NSW schools will resume in stages between October 25 and November 8.
State minister for Education Sarah Mitchell on Friday announced that final-year students will be able to sit their HSC exams and receive their results in time for university offers to be made.
The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) has issued a revised timetable, with 110 exams taking place over 19 days, ending on 3 December.
Students will receive their ATARs on 20 January 2022, with their HSC results released on 24 January.
Ms Mitchell said that after a disruptive and stressful year, students now have the certainty of the timetable and eight weeks to focus on preparing for their exams.
‘Being able to sit all their exams safely is the best and fairest outcome for our HSC students,’ Ms Mitchell said.
‘Whether our students go on to university, vocational training or take on employment, it is important all of them are able to sit their exams and demonstrate what they know.
‘I know that teachers, families and friends are supporting our HSC students every step of the way, and that the whole NSW community is wishing them well after a tough 18 months.’
WHAT CAN YOU DO ON ‘FREEDOM DAY’?
Only fully-vaccinated people and those with medical exemptions will have access to the freedoms allowed under the Reopening NSW roadmap.
The freedoms for vaccinated adults will come into effect on the Monday after NSW hits the 70 per cent double dose target and include:
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.
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