Delaying the lifting of restrictions for unvaccinated people may be the push some need to get jabbed, a leading NSW doctor says following changes to the state’s reopening roadmap.
Australian Medical Association (AMA) NSW president Danielle McMullen said the state was in a “critical period” with the virus still circulating in the community while restrictions lift and vaccinated people are allowed to socialise and travel again.
Dr McMullen said the AMA “recognise that for some… not getting vaccinated isn’t a choice”.
“This is why it is especially important to have as high a vaccination rate in the community as possible,” she said.
It’s not the time for the state “to rest on its laurels”, but Dr McMullen said the AMA was pleased that NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet was “balancing the risks of opening up with sensible measures”.
On Tuesday, Mr Perrottet announced further restrictions will lift for the fully vaccinated next week, while the unvaccinated will have to wait even longer.
He said maintaining restrictions for unvaccinated people until December 15, or until the state hits 95 per cent vaccination, will “incentivise” more people to get the jab.
“That is the key to opening up in a way that keeps people in work, drives companies across the board and gets and keeps businesses alive,” Mr Perrottet said.
The changes come as the state’s vaccination rate continues to climb toward 95 per cent full vaccination.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said on Monday “there’s no reason” the state cannot reach the target.
The state’s opposition leader Chris Minns congratulated the premier on his decision to lift restrictions early, saying 95 per cent vaccination is the “appropriate benchmark to allow freedoms to be returned to all”.
On Tuesday, NSW reached 88.3 per cent full vaccination for people aged over 16 while 93.6 per cent had received at least one dose.
From Monday, fully vaccinated people can have as many visitors to their house as they like, and 1000 people can gather outdoors before a COVID-safe plan is needed.
Density and capacity limits will lift for hospitality venues who will require two square metres for every person inside, and nightclub patrons can dance again.
Gym and dance classes will remain capped at 20, but indoor pools will be allowed to reopen.
Stadiums, racecourses, theme parks, zoos and cinemas can return to 100 per cent seated capacity.
The changes were originally planned for December 1 and would have included unvaccinated people as well.
Instead, because of the state reaching high vaccination rates and the availability of booster shots for people who received their second vaccination more than six months ago, Mr Perrottet has brought forward the lift on restrictions.
However, unvaccinated people will have to wait until December 15 to enjoy the same level of freedom the vaccinated have had since October 11, unless the state hits 95 per cent vaccination before then.
Mask requirements that apply to both groups are still in place on that same timeline.