Saturday, June 22, 2024

NSW to ease Covid restrictions on Friday

The NSW government has announced adjustments to the current Covid-19 restrictions in the state.

From Friday, 18 February, QR codes will no longer be required for retail businesses and density limits will be removed for hospitality venues (previously one person per 2sqm).

From the following Friday, 25 February, masks will no longer be mandated but are encouraged for indoor settings where you cannot maintain a safe distance from others and for customer-facing retail staff.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the NSW government is continuing to adopt a flexible and measured approach to protect the community and our health system.

“We don’t want restrictions in place for any longer than necessary and with hospitalisation and ICU rates trending downwards now is the right time to make sensible changes,” Mr Perrottet said.

“As we continue to move forward out of the pandemic we are ensuring that we keep people safe and people in jobs so life can return to normal as quickly and safely as possible.”

A welcome boost for business

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra has welcomed the easing health protocols in NSW.

“These are sensible measures that reduce the burden on business and allows them to trade at their full potential after several months of stop-start restrictions,” he said.

“It’s important that health protocols are eased when it’s safe to do so and we thank the NSW Government for the adjustments they’ve made.”

Mr Zahra said QR codes have served an important purpose throughout the pandemic, “but for retail, they’re passed their use by date”.

“The removal of the indoor mask mandate will also ensure we can get more people back into the office – and into the Sydney CBD in particular, which is continuing to struggle with reduced levels of foot traffic. Sydney’s office occupancy rate is languishing at 7% and that needs an urgent turnaround.”

The eased restrictions will also see the international border reopens next week to tourists and business travellers. However, this is not a silver bullet solution, says Mr Zahra, as it will take years for tourism levels to get anywhere near pre-pandemic levels.

“The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way our city’s function and we need to look at bold ideas to inject them with new life,” he said.

“It’s important there’s a continued collaborative approach between government, business and industry to ensure our CBDs return to the thriving hubs they once were.”

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