Thursday, February 22, 2024

NSW to lift Covid restrictions next month

The NSW government has updated the roadmap for easing Covid-19 restrictions. After the state reaches the 95% double dose vaccination target, or come 15 December, most of the remaining restrictions will be removed.

Adjustments include:

  • Masks will only be required on public transport and planes, at airports, and for indoors front-of-house hospitality staff who are not fully vaccinated (previously all indoors front-of-house hospitality staff regardless of vaccination status). Masks will be strongly encouraged in settings where you cannot social distance.
  • No density limits (previously one person per 2sqm).
  • Covid safety plans will be optional for businesses and will be supported by SafeWork NSW.
  • QR check-ins will only be required at high-risk venues including hospitals, aged and disability care facilities, gyms, places of worship, funerals or memorial services, personal services (eg, hairdressers and beauty salons), limited hospitality settings (including pubs, small bars, registered clubs and nightclubs), and for indoor music festivals with more than 1000 people.
  • Proof of vaccination will no longer be required by Public Health Order for most activities (businesses can still require proof at their own discretion). Proof of vaccination will still be required for indoor music festivals with more than 1000 people.

Welcomed by retail

The update has been welcomed by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA).

ARA CEO Paul Zahra says the update, coupled with the federal government’s plans to make it easier for skilled migrants to remain in Australia, is welcome news as domestic and international borders reopen. 

“NSW is one of the most vaccinated jurisdictions in the world and it’s a credit to everyone in the community who has got the jab that these greater freedoms are now on our doorstep,” he says.  

“The removal of density limits will be an enormous relief to retail, hair and beauty and hospitality businesses in NSW who have struggled to remain profitable under current restrictions – in particular, small businesses who rely on a particular level of traffic in store.

“Christmas trading is critical for retailers – it’s a time when most discretionary stores make up to two thirds of their annual profits, so allowing business to throw the doors open fully at this time won’t be a day too soon. 

“Vaccination checks have been in place since NSW exited lockdown on October 11 and they’ve served their purpose well in managing the safe reopening. With the vast bulk of the population now fully vaccinated, it makes sense to remove this impediment on customers and business, allowing them to trade at their full potential.”  

Mr Zahra repeats the ARA’s calls for national alignment around Covid-19 protocols as we enter the vaccinated economy.

“Confidence is key as we move forward in the vaccinated economy,” he says.  

“We are keen to see all states align in their approach to reopening – particularly as the domestic and international borders are lifted. The reopening plans in NSW have proceeded very smoothly to date and our expectation is this will continue. It makes little sense for Australia’s two biggest states – NSW and Victoria – to be operating with two separate frameworks.”    

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