Business picks up as freedoms expanded

Freedoms for the vaccinated have been expanded ahead of schedule.

NSW recorded just 187 new Covid-19 cases on Monday morning as freedoms were relaxed across the state for residents who have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. 

The state has now reached a 94 per cent first dose average and 90 per cent double dose (or ‘fully vaxxed’) average.

The numbers are lower in the regions than in the cities, due in large part to the early push to get urban centers vaccinated and prevent the spread of the virus.

The State Government has fast tracked some ‘freedoms’ for double vaccinated residents, which were expected to be extended on December 1 for all residents.

Those freedoms include:

no capacity limits for major recreation and entertainment facilities

no limits to the number of visitors to your home

no booking limits for restaurants and hospitality.

CovidSafe check-in procedures are still in place, and proof of vaccination is required for staff and customers ‘in most settings’. 

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has said that freedoms for the unvaccinated are still scheduled for December, but have been pushed back to December 15, or whatever date NSW reaches 95 per cent double dose average, whichever comes first.

Canberra has already reached the 95 per cent double dose milestone – a first in the nation – and relaxed a number of restrictions last Friday after eleven weeks of various levels of lockdowns.

Victorian rules also started easing on Friday, after the state reached an 80 per cent double dose rate. Melbourne has so far been through six lockdowns since March last year, for a total of 262 days under stay-at-home orders.

Local businesswoman Hansie Armour said business started picking up last Wednesday, as she started seeing a growing number of out-of-state license plates.

“Business was really busy,” she said. 

“It picked up Wednesday, then Thursday and Friday and was really busy on the weekend – and then it’s dead this morning [Monday].

“We had a very busy, pleasant weekend.”

Mrs Armour likened the weekend to ‘pulling out a plug’ with a sudden burst of visitors to the area.

“We went from dead to very busy.”

On the reverse side, she said a number of Snowy Valleys residents also took advantage of the loosening to play catch up.

“A lot of us went over to Canberra for doctor’s appointments, because we finally could,” she said.

Density limits also remain (one person per two sqm indoors and outdoors), and masks are still required in all indoor settings for everyone aged 13 and older.

Masks are no longer required for vaccinated people in office buildings and masks are not required for customers in outdoor settings.

Mrs Armour said she expects the region will gradually get back to normal, and wasn’t concerned about any long term economic impacts from the pandemic.

“We’ll survive. It’s just tough with supplies of stock and delivery,” she said.

“I’m not too concerned, I think we’ll all stabilise back down again. We’ve had some good times, we’ve had some bad times out of Covid. “With the support that we’ve had, i think we’ll be okay.

“It’s more the local downturn [after the burning of large areas of forestry last year] that will impact us, but that’s still uncertain.

“I’m optimistic, but reserved.”

For people who haven’t had one or both of their vaccinations, home visits are off-limits, along with dining out (takeaway is still permitted) and employees must work from home “if reasonably practical.”

Travel limits have also been lifted, meaning that fully vaccinated residents from Greater Sydney are now allowed to travel to the regions.

Weddings and religious services are also back on, with no limits for vaccinated people, but a five-person limit for those who aren’t fully vaccinated (funerals are limited to ten non-vaccinated people).