October 7, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier | Image: ABC press conference live stream
The new NSW Premier has unveiled changes to the state’s reopening roadmap and events are one of the big winners.
While the event settings for reopening on Monday now that the state has reached its 70 percent vaccination target amongst the population aged 16 and over have not changed, some significant changes for events will be introduced once the state hits its 80 percent vaccination milestone.
Once the state opens up further after an 80 percent vaccination rate is achieved across the state, the cap on outdoor ticketed and seated events will be raised from 500 to 3,000. And although the official standard cap for larger venues like stadiums will remain at 5,000, the Government and its public health team will be taking a different approach to granting exemptions to these venues.
The NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres, said adjustments to the roadmap would allow NSW to prioritise COVID Safe events and outdoor activities.
“We want to make sure that where events and activities can happen outdoors the roadmap allows us to do that,” he said at the press conference this morning.
“So that’s why there’s an adjustment, particularly for controlled, fenced, ticketed COVID Safe events from 500 to 3,000. We want to be able to prioritise and allow those events to take place.
“We also recognise that as the people across NSW continue to get vaccinated, it will allow more of our economy to reopen. So this means businesses and particularly event holders who are looking at events across the summer – they want to know how they can hire everything from a small venue, right through to the largest venue we have in the state and so we’re clearly articulating that in the roadmap today.
“We’re moving from just a 5,000 requirement to allowing NSW Health to work with venue owners around creating a COVID Safe plan for each venue.
“What this means is that rather than having Health create an exemption for each individual event that takes place at a venue…rather than having a COVID Safety plan and an exemption for every single event, we’re going to create a COVID Safety plan and an exemption for the [venue], based on its own operating model.
“This has worked incredibly well over the last two years. NSW Health and Venues NSW have worked very closely together and many other venue operators around the state have worked with their local health districts and the NSW Public Health team.
“This makes it easier for people to book venues, it makes it easier for venues to conduct events and it makes it easier for Health to work with those venue operators to ensure people who go to those events do so in a safe way and it articulates very clearly to the community how they can attend events in a COVID Safe way and people can book our venues.”
These changes to rules for exemptions apply to major recreation facilities including stadiums, theme parks and racecourses, according to terminology in the existing roadmap. It was not mentioned whether indoor venues will be provided a path to apply for larger capacities than those allowed by either the one person per four square metres or the 75 percent of fixed seating capacity limits.
Other changes to the roadmap – already the most liberal of the three states and territories which are locked down – include an increase in visitors to homes from next Monday, from five people to 10, an increase in informal outdoor gatherings from 20 to 30 people from Monday and the reopening of indoor pools from Monday. The cap on wedding and funerals has also been increased from 50 to 100 from Monday, providing all attendees are fully vaccinated.
Once 80 percent vaccination has been achieved across the state, up to 20 fully vaccinated people will be able to gather in homes, outdoor informal gathering limits will lift to 50 people and masks will no longer be required in offices.
The reopening of schools for all children has been brought forward to October 25, which is also likely to be the day the greater freedoms of the 80 percent vaccination threshold come into play, with the state looking likely to reach its 80 percent target the previous week.
NSW hit its 70 percent full vaccination target yesterday and case numbers across the state have continued to drop, with the state recording 587 cases today, down more than 1,000 on the peak of 1,599 cases recorded less than a month ago on September 11.