Sydney Rolls Back Covid-19 Restrictions

New South Wales is now in the second stage of its reopening plan, with the next phase slated for November.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge as seen from Observatory Hill Park. (Photo: Leigh Williams/Unsplash)

With the rate of fully vaccinated adults hitting a milestone of 80 percent over the weekend, the Australian state of New South Wales has just eased its coronavirus curbs even further. In Sydney, residents are subject to fewer limits on gatherings and a mask mandate no longer applies to double-dosed workers in office buildings. But masks are still required in all other indoor public venues, including retail premises, and on public transport. New South Wales recorded 265 new coronavirus infections on Monday, the lowest daily count in 10 weeks. The latest figures gathered by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) show that 92 percent of the state’s eligible population has already received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Schools have reopened for the first time since early July for kindergarteners and students in Year 1 and Year 12. The rest will return to the classroom next Monday. In line with regulations introduced the previous week, capacity limits of one person per four square meters apply for places such as shops, gyms, hairdressers, massage and beauty salons. Restaurants and bars must adhere to the same density rule indoors, with the cap increased to one person per two square meters outdoors. Residents who aren’t fully vaccinated will not be able to dine in or set foot inside retail businesses. Entertainment venues such as cinemas are allowed to operate with limits of one person per four square meters or at up to 75 percent capacity, and nightclubs can now reopen for seated drinking (though dancing remains banned).

Gatherings at home are permitted for up to 20 visitors, not including children under the age of 12. Meanwhile, unregulated outdoor settings will be able to host groups of no more than 50 (up from 20), while Covid-safe events are being capped at 200 people; ticketed events will get to accommodate a maximum of 3,000 participants. Significantly, wedding ceremonies and receptions can welcome an unlimited number of vaccinated guests.

From November 1, unrestricted travel will once again be possible between greater Sydney and regional New South Wales, and returning citizens and permanent residents who have been fully inoculated will be free to enter Sydney without quarantine. Canberra is set to introduce a vaccination passport tomorrow that will allow Australians to travel overseas from next month.

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