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NSW Covid restrictions: reopening rules for Sydney, regional NSW, freedoms for vaccinated people explained

·7-min read
<span>Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/EPA</span>
Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/EPA

On Monday 18 October, New South Wales will hit the second stage of its staggered reopening plan, with new freedoms for the fully vaccinated and more social and cultural institutions open to the public.

It comes just a week after a significant easing of restrictions when the state hit its first target of 70% double dose vaccinations.

Many school students will return to face-to-face teaching for the first time in months from 18 October.

Gathering, recreation and travel restrictions will be eased from the 80% target and based on spacing requirements, as opposed to person limits, from 1 December, when masks won’t be required in some indoor settings. However, reopening travel from Sydney to regional NSW has been pushed back from the 70% first stage of reopening to 1 November.

Here is everything you need to know about the plan.

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What will be allowed when NSW achieves 80% vaccination?

The second stage of reopening builds on the freedoms from the first stage, which you can read about here.

When 80% vaccination coverage is reached, the following freedoms will apply only to fully vaccinated people over 16 and those with medical exemptions:

Gatherings in the home and outdoor public spaces

  • Up to 20 visitors will be allowed in a home (not including children 12 and under).

  • Up to 50 people can continue to gather in unregulated outdoor settings.

  • Up to 200 people can attend Covid-safe events.

  • Up to 3,000 people can attend controlled (ticketed and seated) events with density limits in place.

  • Community sport will be permitted.

  • Those who are not fully vaccinated may only gather outdoors in groups of two people.

Venues including hospitality, retail stores and gyms

  • Retail stores can operate at one person per 4 sq metres (those who are not fully vaccinated will continue to only have access to non-critical retail via click-and-collect).

  • Personal services such as hairdressers, spa, nail, beauty, waxing, tattoo and massage can operate with one person per 4 sq m (uncapped), and sex service premises will reopen.

  • Hospitality venues can operate with one person per 4 sq m inside and one person per 2 sq m outside, with the requirement to be seated while drinking indoors removed. Dancing will be allowed indoors and outdoors, except, paradoxically, at nightclubs. Group bookings will be limited to 20 people. Those who are not fully vaccinated can only access hospitality settings for takeaway.

  • Gyms and indoor recreation facilities (including indoor pools) can operate with one person per 4 sq m, capped at 20 people per class.

Major outdoor recreation facilities

  • Major recreation outdoor facilities including stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos can operate with one person per 4 sq m, capped at 5,000 people (or by exemption).

Entertainment, information and education facilities

  • Entertainment facilities (including cinemas, theatres and music halls) can operate with one person per 4 sq m or 75% fixed seated capacity (whichever is larger).

  • Information and education facilities (including libraries, galleries and museums) can operate with one person per 4 sq m.

  • Nightclubs and strip clubs will reopen with seated drinking allowed, but no dancing.

Working from home

  • Employers must continue to allow employees to work from home, if reasonably practicable.

  • Employers must require employees who are not fully vaccinated to work from home, if reasonably practicable.

  • Mask wearing will not be required in offices, provided the worker is vaccinated.

Education

  • Schools will be open under Level 3 Covid-19 safety measures, with kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 12 students to return on 18 October. All students will be back in the classroom on 25 October.

Weddings, funerals and places of worship

  • Weddings will be allowed with no person limits for vaccinated adults, and a five person cap for unvaccinated adults.

  • Wedding receptions will be allowed with no caps, provided adults are fully vaccinated. Eating and drinking while standing and dancing will be allowed.

  • Funerals will be allowed with no caps for vaccinated adults and a 10 person cap for the unvaccinated, with eating and drinking standing permitted.

  • Places of worship will reopen for the unvaccinated. Up to 10 fully vaccinated singers can perform in places of worship and at religious services.

  • Density limits still apply to all of the above

Travel

  • Unrestricted trips between greater Sydney and regional NSW will not be permitted until 1 November.

  • Caravan parks and camping grounds can operate, including for those who are not fully vaccinated

  • Carpooling is permitted. Those who are not fully vaccinated can only carpool with their household.

Masks

  • Masks are still required in all indoor settings including public transport and shops. But you don’t have to wear a mask outdoors or in office buildings, provided you’re fully vaccinated.

  • Front-of-house hospitality staff still have to wear a mask if they’re working outdoors.

  • The rules apply to anyone over 12.

What will change from 1 November?

From 1 November, bookings for hospitality venues will no longer be capped.

Travel between Greater Sydney and regional NSW will be permitted. Intrastate travel was initially slated for 80% vaccination targets, but was delayed to allow time for regional NSW vaccination rates to increase.

Quarantine requirements will also be removed as well as caps for overseas arrivals, provided they are fully vaccinated with a TGA-approved, Commonwealth recognised vaccine and receive a Covid-19 test prior to flying.

Vaccinated travellers currently under taking quarantine in NSW on 1 November will be released.

Overseas arrivals who are not fully vaccinated will be capped at 210 people per week, and will be required to complete 14 days quarantine.

What will change from 1 December for the final stage of reopening?

On Wednesday 1 December, the following settings will apply to all NSW citizens, regardless of their vaccination status.

Gatherings in the home and outdoor public spaces

  • No limit on the number of visitors to a home.

  • Density will shift to one person per 2 sq m for indoor and outdoor settings.

  • No limit on the number of people who can attend informal outdoor gatherings.

  • Covid-safe plan required for outdoor events with more than 1,000 people.

  • Community sport permitted for all people.

Venues including hospitality, retail stores and gyms

  • Retail stores can operate at one person per 2 sq m.

  • Personal services such as hairdressers, spa, nail, beauty, waxing, tattoo and massage can operate with one person per 2 sq m.

  • Hospitality venues can operate with one person per 2 sq m inside and outside, with no seating required for eating and drinking.

  • Gyms and indoor recreation facilities, including indoor pools, can operate with one person per 2 sq m (uncapped).

  • Intimate services can open with one person per 4 sq m.

Major outdoor recreation facilities

  • Major recreation outdoor facilities including stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos can operate with one person per 2 sq m.

Entertainment, information and education facilities

  • Entertainment facilities (including cinemas, theatres, music halls) can operate with one person per 2 sq m.

  • Information and education facilities (including libraries, museums and galleries) can operate with one person per 2 sq m.

  • Amusement centres and nightclubs can open with one person per 4 sq m.

Working from home

  • Working from home will be at the employer’s discretion.

Education

  • All year groups continue with face-to-face learning.

Weddings, funerals and places of worship

  • One person per 2 sqm for weddings with dancing permitted and eating and drinking allowed while standing.

  • One person per 2 sq m for funerals.

  • Churches and places of worship can operate with one person per 2 sq m, with singing permitted.

Travel

  • Domestic travel, including trips between greater Sydney and regional NSW.

  • International travel is permitted, with fully vaccinated travellers able to enter Sydney without quarantining provided they complete Covid-19 tests.

  • Caravan parks and camping grounds can operate.

  • Carpooling is permitted.
    Quarantine settings for vaccinated arrivals will be altered. A cap on unvaccinated travellers may remain.

Masks

  • Mask-wearing will be mandatory while travelling on public transport, on planes and at airports, and for front-of-house hospitality workers.

  • Mask wearing is not required when outdoors.

Will overseas travel and quarantine change?

Quarantine for vaccinated arrivals will be lifted from 1 November. Caps will also be lifted for vaccinated travellers.

Unvaccinated international arrivals will still have to complete 14 days quarantine.

When will the reopening stages take effect?

Stage one came into effect on 11 October. Stage two, based on 80% double dose targets, will be achieved on Monday, 18 October.

A further easing will occur on 1 November and the final stage, including for unvaccinated people, will occur from 1 December, regardless of vaccination rate.

  • Due to the unprecedented and ongoing nature of the coronavirus outbreak, this article is being regularly updated to ensure that it reflects the current situation at the date of publication. Any significant corrections made to this or previous versions of the article will be footnoted in line with Guardian editorial policy.


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