Australian authorities have announced plans to reopen locked-down Sydney using a two-tiered system that will give people who are vaccinated against Covid 19 more more freedoms than their unvaccinated neighbours for several weeks.
Movement restrictions across the wider New South Wales area will be lifted gradually between 11 October and 1 December as vaccination rates move from 70% to 90%.
People who are not fully vaccinated will be barred from joining the vaccinated to resume community sports, eating out or doing non essential shopping until the final date.
“Unlike most cases in the world, if you are not vaccinated you will have to wait at least four or five weeks … in order to participate in things that the rest of us can participate in,” state premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a televised briefing.
“If you want to be able to have a meal with friends and welcome people in your home, you have to get vaccinated.”
Berejiklian did not detail how the block on activity by the unvaccinated would be enforced.
Sydney, along with Melbourne and Canberra, has been in lockdown for several weeks, with the three cities bearing the brunt of a third wave of Covid-19 infections that has taken national case numbers to almost 100,000 – 68% recorded since mid-June.
The Delta-fuelled outbreak has divided state and territory leaders, with some presiding over virus-free parts of the country indicating they will defy a federal plan to reopen internal borders once the adult population reaches 80% vaccination, expected in late October.
In New South Wales, where around 60% of people aged 16 and over are fully inoculated, restaurants, pubs, retail stores, gyms and indoor recreation facilities may reopen on 11 October – days after the state is expected to reach 70% vaccination – with capacity limits.
Once 80% vaccination is achieved, expected a few weeks later, state-wide travel will be allowed. Limits on people attending funerals and weddings will be lifted, and the number of vaccinated people allowed to gather in a home will double to 10.
From 1 December, there will be no limits on home and informal outdoor gatherings. Capacity limits will remain at indoor venues, but masks will no longer required. Businesses may impose their own rules regarding customer vaccination.