Dancing, drinking and no quarantine as NSW opens up

NSW will allow dancing and stand-up drinking from Monday and lift venue capacity caps and quarantine for domestic and international visitors from November 1 as it moves towards an 80 per cent double dose vaccination reopening target.

Photo: AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Photo: AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Premier Dominic Perrottet said today that Monday is firming as the day that the state’s reopening roadmap settings would begin to come into effect for the double-vaccinated.

Caps on weddings and funeral numbers will also be removed and community sport will resume, while up to 20 people will be allowed inside households.

From November 1, rules restricting the number of patrons allowed at venues will be lifted, as will isolation and quarantine arrangements.

Travellers from around the world will need to be fully vaccinated and test negative for COVID-19 on departure and arrival.

NSW is the first state in the country, working with the Commonwealth, to announce it will open up to travellers from overseas and scrap quarantine rules.

“For double vaccinated people around the world, Sydney (and) NSW is open for business,” Perrottet said on Friday.

“We want people back.”

The premier also confirmed restrictions will ease further across NSW from Monday, a week after the first phase of the state’s exit from lockdown began, but Sydneysiders will be unable to travel to the regions.

NSW will hit 80 per cent double-dose vaccination coverage, likely by Saturday, which will prompt changes to a raft of restrictions.

The number of guests at weddings and funerals will be unlimited and up to 20 household visitors will be able allowed.

NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole confirmed the decision to delay travel to the regions until November 1 had been taken because of the risk to communities where vaccination rates lag behind the cities.

Delaying regional travel was necessary to protect communities from a virus outbreak because only 36 per cent of regional local government areas have populations where 80 per cent are double vaccinated against COVID-19.

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“We have to make sure that there is a balance between protecting communities and opening up,” Toole said.

Some 399 new local COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in NSW in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday.

The radical shift on quarantine outpaces national cabinet’s agreement.

Under the reopening plan, an 80 per cent double-dose vaccination rate was supposed to trigger a gradual reopening of international travel with “safe countries” and “proportionate quarantine”.

The deal – based on Doherty Institute modelling – signalled reduced requirements for fully vaccinated travellers.

But quarantine-free travel was only part of the final “post-vaccination” phase which seeks to manage coronavirus in the same way as other infectious diseases.

The explosive departure from the plan raises major questions about state borders and requirements for international arrivals wanting to leave NSW.

 “I’ve had numerous discussions with the prime minister over the course of this period about dispensing with hotel quarantine – they support this policy,” Perrottet said.

“They will need to implement it from a border perspective and we want tourists back into the state as quickly as possible.

“If you’re a returning Australian and you want to come here, stay in New South Wales and stay in Sydney,” he said.

“Have a great time here before you go home and spend up big.”

-with AAP

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