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NSW emerges from 106-day lockdown

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has called for patience as the state emerges from lockdown, amid concerns customer-facing staff could be at risk of abuse from unvaccinated people denied entry to venues.

Signage at an entertainment venue at Barangaroo in Sydney. Photo: Joel Carrett/AAP

Signage at an entertainment venue at Barangaroo in Sydney. Photo: Joel Carrett/AAP

After 106 days, almost 63,000 COVID-19 cases and 431 deaths, stay-at-home orders were lifted across New South Wales today.

Having surpassed a 70 per cent double-dose vaccination milestone early last week, gyms, cafes, restaurants, pools, shops, hairdressers and beauticians will reopen and people will be allowed to travel more than five kilometres from home.

But as the lockdown ends for most, a “lockout” of the unvaccinated is in place with only those who have had both jabs able to enjoy the new freedoms.

Business owners and hospitality staff are nervous the risk of transmission is still high, and the risk of abuse from customers is even higher.

Perrottet urged the state’s residents to show patience, kindness and respect.

“We’re the first state in the country that’s put these plans in place,” he said.

“There will be challenges and difficulties as we go through this … but we certainly don’t want to be having police moving through cafes and restaurants.

“That’s just not the state that I love and know.”

He rejected concerns business owners have been left out on a limb when it comes to dealing with angry people denied entry and in-venue service.

Clear guidelines have been issued in terms of training staff and signage, he added.

“If an individual feels unsafe, if a business owner … feels unsafe, then yes, it’s important that they do contact police,” Perrottet said.

“But that’ll be the same today as it will be tomorrow.”

Signage at an entertainment venue at Barangaroo in Sydney. Photo: Joel Carrett/AAPSydney bartender Lucy is one of those anxious about being on the frontline when stay-at-home orders cease and people flood the pubs.

The venue where the 34-year-old works will not be hiring a security guard, after going months without income, so staff will be responsible for checking a patron’s vaccination status and making sure they follow safety measures.

“A lot of people are angry about having to get vaccinated and I worry they will try to make a point at the door,” Lucy said.

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While she’s keen to return to work after being stood down during the latest lockdown, Lucy also feels exposed as the delta variant continues to circulate throughout Greater Sydney.

“I definitely feel at risk,” she said.

“I worry a lot of the pubs will be environments where the virus can spread pretty easily.”

The United Workers Union, which represents essential frontline and public-facing workers, is concerned staff checking a person’s vaccination status could face unsafe situations and is calling for clearer, binding rules for bosses to protect staff as well as penalties for non-compliance.

From Monday, indoor and outdoor gatherings will also be permitted, with caps increased to 10 and 30 people respectively.

However, people who are unvaccinated – or have not had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine – effectively remain locked down until December.

NSW on Saturday reached 90.3 per cent first-dose vaccination coverage for the eligible population,  while 73.5 per cent are now fully jabbed.

On the final day of the lockdown on Sunday, the state reported 477 new local COVID-19 cases and six deaths.

None of those who died – all men – were fully vaccinated.

There are 794 COVID-19 patients in NSW hospitals, with 159 in intensive care units and 76 on ventilators.

-with AAP

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