NSW: Don't call 11 October "Freedom Day", but whatever, it still will be

The reopening of NSW from next month on October 11 should not be seen as "Freedom Day", the NSW premier has warned. Though after almost four months of being in lockdown, could it really be deemed anything else?

The reopening of NSW from next month on October 11 should not be seen as “Freedom Day”, the NSW premier has warned. Though after almost four months of being in lockdown, could it really be deemed anything else?

The state is “almost gallop(ing) to the finish line” of 70 per cent full vaccination among its eligible population, which will trigger the reopening, Gladys Berejiklian said on Friday.

But the government and its citizens must still behave responsibly, she said.

“I’m always wary of using terms like Freedom Day because when we start to open up it must be step-by-step, it has to be done cautiously,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters.

Greater Sydney has been in lockdown since 6:00 pm on June 26, although stay-at-home orders were introduced in some areas earlier that day.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant told reporters “we will not (ever) go back to pre-COVID”.

“We’ll always have to be mindful that COVID exists … It’s not going to be back to normal,” she said.

NSW residents would have to keep getting booster shots and listening to health advice when there were outbreaks, even when vaccination rates were higher, she said.

Dr Chant said authorities were seeing “pleasing declines” in case numbers but everyone needed to do their part to “hold the course”.

While the government is yet to reveal what will actually happen when the state hits 80 per cent vaccination, tipped to be on October 11, Ms Berejiklian has foreshadowed it will mean more freedoms and travel are reinstated.

Trans-Tasman
Image: Sydney Airport

The Premier said once vaccination targets were met she would be happy for the state to become the “gateway to our nation” and open up to more international arrivals.

“Once we get to that 80 per cent double dose, I would welcome having thousands and thousands of Australians come through Sydney Airport,” she said.

“If airlines put on extra flights it would make me very happy.”

Ms Berejiklian said the government was still considering how and when restrictions on regional travel and community sport would be lifted. 

“We are confident we will get the balance right by giving people enough freedoms to enjoy the things that we’ve missed and making sure we reopen in a very responsible and cautious way,” she said.

It had not yet decided on the “challenging question” of when unvaccinated people would be able to take part in society, the premier said.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet made his position clear on Friday afternoon, telling Sydney radio 2GB it should be sooner rather than later.

“Once every single person in this state has had the opportunity be vaccinated with two doses then we should open up for everyone,” Mr Perrottet said. 

The freedoms to be reinstated once the state reaches the 70 per cent target next month are limited to those who are fully vaccinated.

Those who have not received two jabs will not be able to attend restaurants, shops, pubs and other places that are set to reopen. 

At least 84 per cent of NSW residents have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and more than 57 per cent are fully vaccinated.