NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has called for patience as the state emerges from lockdown amid concerns customer-facing staff could be at risk of abuse from rebuffed unvaccinated people.
After 106 days, almost 63,000 COVID-19 cases and 431 deaths, stay-at-home orders were lifted across NSW on Monday.
In the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, the state recorded 496 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, as well as eight additional deaths.
Gyms, cafes, restaurants, shops and hairdressers are reopening and people can travel more than five kilometres from home, after the state surpassed a 70 per cent double-dose vaccination milestone.
But as the lockdown ends a “lockout” of the unvaccinated comes into place, with only the double jabbed able to enjoy the restored freedoms.
Business owners and hospitality staff are nervous the risk of virus transmission is still high, alongside the risk of abuse from customers.
Mr Perrottet urged the state’s residents to show patience and respect.
“We’re the first state in the country that’s put these plans in place,” the NSW premier told AAP.
“There will be challenges and difficulties as we go through this … but we certainly don’t want to be having police moving through cafes and restaurants.
“That’s just not the state that I love and know.”
Mr Perrottet denied business owners had been left out on a limb when it came to dealing with people angry at being denied entry and in-venue service.
Clear guidelines have been issued in terms of training staff and signage, the premier added.
“If an individual feels unsafe, if a business owner … feels unsafe, then yes, it’s important they do contact police,” Mr Perrottet said.
The state’s Service NSW app-based vaccination passport is also yet to be rolled out, but residents can use the Medicare app to show proof of vaccination.
Sydney bartender Lucy is one of those anxious about being on the frontline when people flood the pubs.
The 34-year-old’s workplace won’t be hiring a security guard after going months without income, so staff will be responsible for checking patrons’ vaccination status.
“A lot of people are angry about having to get vaccinated and I worry they will try to make a point at the door,” Lucy, who did not want her surname published, told AAP.
While she’s keen to return to work, Lucy also feels exposed as the Delta variant continues to circulate throughout Greater Sydney.
“I worry a lot of the pubs will be environments where the virus can spread pretty easily,” she said.
The United Workers Union, which represents essential frontline and public-facing workers, is concerned staff could face unsafe situations and has called for clearer, binding rules for bosses to protect staff.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller on Monday said officers will address issues if needed.
From Monday, indoor and outdoor gatherings will also be permitted, with caps increased to 10 and 30 people respectively.
People who are not double-dose vaccinated effectively remain locked down until December.
Mr Perrottet also indicated he’s keen for international travel to resume as quickly as possible – with seven days of home quarantine for the fully jabbed – and potentially as soon as early November.
NSW on Saturday reached 90.3 per cent first-dose vaccination coverage for the eligible population, while 73.5 per cent are now fully jabbed.
On the final day of the lockdown on Sunday, the state reported 477 new local COVID-19 cases and six deaths, none of whom were fully vaccinated.
“It’s been 100 days of blood, sweat and no beers but we’re back in action,” Mr Perrottet said on Sunday.
STATE-BY-STATE CASE BREAKDOWN
NSW – 496 new local cases
VIC – TBA
WA – TBA
NT – TBA
SA – TBA
TAS – TBA
ACT – TBA
QLD – TBA