Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced a surprise eased restriction as a reward for NSW reaching a major vaccine milestone.
Hello and welcome to Wednesday’s live Covid coverage.
NSW hospitality leaders are calling on Premier Gladys Berejiklian to provide more guidance around the plan to reopen pubs and restaurants to vaccinated residents, with fears owners could be exposed to a legal minefield.
It comes as the state confirmed 1259 new infections and two deaths on Wednesday.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is set to reveal his state’s roadmap out of lockdown Sunday, which is expected to focus on greater freedoms and returning to face-to-face learning.
The state recorded 423 new cases and two deaths on Wednesday.
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Curfew to lift as NSW reaches vax milestone
Residents living in the 12 Sydney LAGS of concern have been rewarded with a slight easing of restrictions after NSW hit it’s 80 per cent first dose vaccination milestone.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the 9pm to 5am curfew that is in place across those LGAs will be lifted from tonight.
“Pleasingly, after receiving advice from both police and Health, given we’ve hit the 80 per cent milestone across the state, we’re able to lift the curfew in those areas of concern from tonight and I want to thank the police, the Police Commissioner and also the health teams for giving us that advice,” she said.
“This is a whole-of-government decision based on a number of factors but I want to send this strong message. We can’t move on anything else just now. We need everybody to hold the line.
“Please make sure that if you live in those local government areas of concern that you stick to every other rule that’s in place.”
Ms Berejiklian said while there has been a stabilisation in cases over the last few days, authorities don’t want people to become complacent and see the “trend go the wrong way”.
“We still have work to do. We can all see the light at the end of the tunnel but we still have work to do and I ask everybody, especially in the local government areas of concern to hold the line,” she said.
The Premier praised NSW for reaching the “incredible milestone” of 80 per cent first dose vaccinations.
“To reach our first dose of 80 per cent is a huge tribute to everybody in the community and some of our communities in western and southwestern Sydney have vaccination rates closer to 90 per cent,” she said.
“Just an outstanding result compared to where we’ve been and where we are today.”
1259 cases in NSW and 12 deaths
NSW has recorded 1259 new Covid-19 cases and 12 deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
The deaths include a woman in her 30s, a woman in her 50s, a man in his 50s, a woman in her 60s, two men in their 60s, two women in their 70s, a man in his 70s, two women in their 80s and a man in his 90s.
‘Not enforceable’: Call for tough Vic rule to be scrapped
Infectious disease experts have weighed in on the extra restrictions they believe could be eased across Victoria this week.
Premier Daniel Andrews has already promised a modest easing of lockdown rules when the state reaches it’s 70 per cent first dose vaccination target, which it is now projected to hit on Friday.
Among the changes will be an increase in the travel limit to 10km, increasing the daily exercise limit to three hours and outdoor gym equipment and skate parks will reopen.
However, some experts believe a further easing of rules will also be possible, with Melbourne University’s Associate Professor Nathan Grills saying one restriction in particular needs to be scrapped.
He told the Herald Sun the time limit on outdoor exercise was almost impossible to enforce.
“Restricting outdoor exercise times is not enforceable and its time to downgrade time limit to ‘advisory’,” he said.
“After 18 months of severe restrictions people are doing it tough. If a parent wants to go for a walk with each of their kids, walk with a struggling friend and then run 10km, then go for it.”
Deakin University’s chair of epidemiology Catherine Bennett told the publication said the safest restrictions to ease are outdoor activities.
“Walking to a local park and sitting for a while when away from others is less risky than strolling to the local shop and queuing for a coffee,” she said.
“Other safe activities, such as golf, could be considered where facilities are not open and people only play solo or with others from their own household.”
Victoria records 423 new Covid cases
Victoria has recorded 423 new locally acquired Covid-19 cases and two deaths in the 24 hours to midnight last night.
Of the new cases, just 149 have been linked to known cases and outbreaks, making the other 274 mystery infections.
NSW set to reach huge vaccine milestone
NSW is expected to reach a huge vaccine milestone as early as today, which will all but guarantee the state will hit it’s 80 per cent double dose reopening target.
On Tuesday, it was revealed 79.5 per cent of residents over the age of 16 had received their first Covid-19 dose and 47.5 per cent were fully vaccinated.
When the first dose rate hits 80 per cent, it is essentially a given that the 80 per cent fully vaccinated target will be hit.
Under the reopening roadmap, vaccinated residents will be given extra freedoms when the double-dose rate reaches 70 per cent.
At 80 per cent, even more residents will be eased, including access to international travel and large events.
‘Insane’: Big issue with freedoms for vaxxed
Hospitality leaders are scared they could face major legal issues when they are forced to ban unvaccinated staff and customers when NSW begins to reopen.
As part of NSW’s roadmap to freedom, venues such as pubs and restaurants will be reopened to vaccinated residents when the state’s double-dose vaccinations hit 70 per cent.
However, some venue owners are concerned that this will leave them open to a range of legal implications if the government refuses to provide guidance and leaves it up to the owners to turn away unvaccinated people.
Celebrity chef Neil Perry told The Daily Telegraph that leaving it to businesses to face the consequences of turning away unvaccinated customers was “insane”, adding venues were begging for more clarity around the roadmap.
Pub empire heir and former federal MP Craig Laundy told the publication he had been forced to engage an independent risk assessment team to create a safety plan for his venues so he would be able to defend himself against any potential legal action.
“If I have an unvaccinated staff member catch Covid and die … I can be criminally prosecuted,” he said.
“If I say I want vaccinated staff and the staff member doesn’t like that, they can take me to the Fair Work Commission.”
Dan to reveal Victorian roadmap on Sunday
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will reveal what the state’s next few months look like on Sunday.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, the Premier said plans would focus on greater freedoms and a return to face-to-face learning.
“There will be a map that talks about what we are going to do for the rest of September, October and November,” he said.
“It will be subject to all sorts of things like how many people are in hospital,” Mr Andrews told reporters.
“It will give people a clear sense of what we’re working towards.”
In Victoria, 66.8 per cent of the population has received one dose of the vaccine, with the Premier previously benchmarking a 70 per cent one-dose target for restrictions to ease slightly.
‘Breaking point’: Gladys accused of hiding
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is facing political pressure from both state and local government representatives as Sydney spends its 12th week in lockdown.
On Tuesday, mayors of the city’s coronavirus hot spots raised concerns about tough lockdown measures with the premier, while Labor and crossbench MPs attempted to get NSW parliament to resume sitting.
The premier held virtual talks with mayors from the local government areas of concern, two weeks after she reportedly snubbed their earlier requests for a meeting.
Curfews, over-policing and the strained mental health of residents were among the issues they raised.
Cumberland City Council Mayor Steve Christou said he had given the premier some “long overdue realities” of the hardships his community faced over the past three months.
“They’re already extremely frustrated and at breaking point and clearly feel like second class citizens. Our suburbs and streets are ghost towns. We’re all meant to be in this together,” he told NCA NewsWire.
“The premier definitely listened attentively. But she definitely made no promises or assurances.”
Mr Christou said Ms Berejiklian told the mayors all the decisions had been made on health advice and that she would relay their concerns to health authorities.
“Politicians are hiding behind health as a cover but not presenting how NSW Health came to its decisions,” he said.
– Additional reporting NCA NewsWire