Speculation grows over NSW and Victoria reopening plans

Speculation is mounting that venues in New South Wales will be able to reopen their doors on 14 October, 2021, thanks to the continuing escalation of vaccine rates in the state.

Sydney radio station 2GB, this morning said that Government ministers were working towards 14 October as ‘Freedom Day’, but that there would still be restrictions in place around drinking standing up, social distancing and capacity limits.

While NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian would not be drawn on an exact date at this morning’s press conference, she did say it would come in October and freedoms would only be enjoyed by those who are fully vaccinated.

“We are looking forward to hitting 70 per cent double dose in October and I can’t stress enough now we’re encouraging people to not get left behind, ” the Premier said.

“Those things that we’ll all miss are only available to those who are vaccinated. I don’t want to put a date on it. We’re still working on the detail. But it would be important to note that we’ve done a lot of work towards that already.”

Speaking on 2GB this morning, Ben Fordham said that the reopening of venues would come under and new public health order and would form part of the state government’s vaccine incentive program, which would give double vaccinated people more freedoms.

This would mean that any changes to restrictions will only impact those people who have been double vaccinated and earlier this week NSW Minister for Digital and Customer Services, Victor Dominello showed a prototype of the new NSW Services app. The app links medicare vaccine status to the QR check-in system, and so when someone checks in to a venue their vaccine status is shown on screen.

The Minister said testing of the system would begin later this month, with pilots to take place in the first half of October. He also said these features were crucial in the process of reopening the state and helping businesses prepare.

“Industry has been calling for this feature in the ServiceNSW app and we should be working with them at every opportunity to make opening up as easy and as COVID safe as possible,” the Minister said.

Fordham also said the reopening would be mandated by a new public health order, which would only allow those who are fully vaccinated to enter a venue, and crucially only those who are double vaccinated will be allowed to work in venues as well.

This would take the decision around vaccine status and who is allowed to enter premises away from operators as it will be mandated by government.

It’s a similar approach to that revealed by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews last week, who said Victorians who choose not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will be locked out of pubs and bars, and “all manner of different places”.

Andrews said when the state reaches 70 and 80 per cent of the population with double dose vaccination, parts of the economy will be opened up to those who have been jabbed.

The Premier said: “When we get to those vaccination double-dose thresholds as part of the national plan, the notion of a lockdown of the whole community is far less relevant but what will become a bigger part of our response is a lockout of many, many venues for those who are not vaccinated.

“That might seem a bit harsh, but I’ve said this before and I’ll make the point again, I’m not going to lock the whole state down to protect people who won’t protect themselves.”

He added: “You will be able to participate in an economy, go to the pub, the cinema, to a sporting event. Things that an unvaccinated person will not be able to do. You will have freedoms that others will not have.

“They will be locked out of a whole range of venues because they could be vaccinated and they have chosen not to. That is the greatest incentive, to get our freedoms.”

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