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NSW residents will have to keep wearing face masks on public transport but density limits will be scrapped under changes to the government’s reopening plan.
The Perrottet government on Thursday unveiled some adjustments to the next batch of Covid rules after its pandemic subcommittee spent the afternoon debating them.
The next set of rules will come into force on December 15 or when 95 per cent of the population aged over 16 have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, whichever comes first.
As the rules now stand, masks will only be required from that date for people on public transport or on planes and in airports, as well as for indoor front-of house hospitality staff who are not fully vaccinated.
Previously all indoors front-of-house hospitality staff were required to wear masks even if they were vaccinated.
The government is strongly encouraging people to wear masks in places where they cannot social distance.
Density limits were due to remain at one person per 2 sqm, but these will no longer apply under the new rules.
Covid-safety plans will be optional for businesses, who will be supported by SafeWork NSW to implement them.
QR check-ins will only be required at what the government deems high-risk venues – a sweeping category that includes hospitals, aged and disability care facilities, gyms, places of worship, funerals or memorial services, personal services (e.g. hairdressers and beauty salons), limited hospitality settings (including pubs, small bars, registered clubs and nightclubs), and for indoor music festivals with more than 1,000 people.
Proof of vaccination will no longer be required under the Public Health Orders, meaning the unvaccinated will enjoy the same freedoms as the rest of society.
Businesses will still be able to require proof at their own discretion and vaccine certificates will still be mandatory for indoor music festivals with more than 1,000 people.
Health officials had reportedly been pushing for masks to remain mandatory in shops even after NSW hits the 95 per cent vaccination target.
The Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday that NSW Health bureaucrats fear Covid cases could surge during the festive season and want masks to be worn in indoor retail.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard told the newspaper that the concerns from health officials were “understandable”.
“At times like the mad retail rush we’ll see at Black Friday and Christmas it becomes pretty clear why Health will be likely to have continuing concerns,” he said.
The report sparked a flurry of media coverage and backlash from members of the public who accused the government of shifting the goalposts on a rule they consider to be annoying and inconvenient.
In response, Premier Dominic Perrottet said the Covid subcommittee would on Thursday consider the health advice around easing mask rules.
NSW Health will begin a Covid vaccine booster program at its clinics to individuals aged 18 and older who received their second shot six months or more ago.
NSW on Thursday reported 276 new cases of Covid-19 and no new deaths.
Thursday’s figures also show there are 191 people in hospital with 31 in intensive care.
Across the state, 94.4 per cent of the population aged over 16 have received their first dose of the vaccine while 92.1 per cent are double-vaccinated.
For those between the ages of 12 and 15, 81.1 per cent have had one dose while 75.9 per cent are fully vaccinated.
- by Catie McLeod, news.com.au