COVID-19 lockdown extended in Port Stephens and the Hunter as NSW's roadmap to freedom revealed

REOPENING: Tourists are expected to flock to all parts of Port Stephens including beautiful Fingal Bay (pictured) when restrictions ease as part of the NSW Government's 'road map to freedom'.

REOPENING: Tourists are expected to flock to all parts of Port Stephens including beautiful Fingal Bay (pictured) when restrictions ease as part of the NSW Government's 'road map to freedom'.

Port Stephens and the Hunter is not expected to come out of the lockdown until mid-October as the region continues to record daily case numbers in the double digits.

The NSW Government released its 'road map to freedom' last Thursday, stressing that a 70-80 per cent double vaccination rate was key to start opening the state again, along with the regions that would come out of lockdown.

But questions are being asked about the challenges facing the Port community when the 'road map' is rolled out.

State MP Kate Washington said there would be a great sense of relief to the Port Stephens community once restrictions ease.

"Lockdown has been hard on so many local residents and businesses. So, once we escape lockdown, we want to keep it that way," Ms Washington said.

"But it's going to be a challenge, because when restrictions ease there will be a tsunami of Sydney-siders seeking solace in Port Stephens from their months of staying at home.

"The modelling has shown that restrictions can be eased at 70 and 80 per cent if the right measures are in place to protect the community. But there are still so many unanswered questions. The government needs to clearly articulate how these changes will be implemented locally.

"To prepare for what's to come, we need a strong plan and clear rules now. When everything re-opens, we must ensure our community is kept safe and our freedoms remain - we don't want to bounce in and out of lockdown for the next year."

She said she had written to the Health Minister seeking a clear plan for Port Stephens, not only to protect the health of our community but to ensure we keep our hard-fought freedoms.

Entering its sixth week of lockdown with more to come, tour operator Moonshadow-TQC Cruises, like many Port businesses, continues to navigate through the grey areas in the 'road map' heading out of lockdown.

Moonshadow's business development manager Mel Turner said they have more questions than answers.

"We are on the verge of reopening during the busy summer season and we need clear guidance and insight under the road map plan as to ensure compliance in our industry. Our goal is to open safely with the knowledge we are operating under clear recommendations and rules as required by the NSW government."

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said that the decision to open parts of the state and not others had been based on NSW Health advice, and the LGAs which remain in lockdown, such as Port Stephens, would continue to be monitored and updated on a regular basis.

"My strong advice to everyone in regional NSW is to get vaccinated as soon as you can. Our communities need to continue to get vaccinated so that when NSW reaches 70 and 80 per cent, restrictions can ease significantly."

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state was "well on the way" to hitting the 70 per cent double dose milestone, which would allow the state to open up for those who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

"If you have not had both doses, you will not be able to take advantage of these freedoms."

The freedoms include:

Gatherings in the home and public spaces

  • Up to five visitors will be allowed in a home where all adults are vaccinated (not including children 12 and under).
  • Up to 20 people can gather in outdoor settings.

Venues includinghospitality, retail stores and gyms

  • Hospitality venues can reopen subject to one person per 4sqm inside and one person per 2sqm outside, with standing while drinking permitted outside.
  • Retail stores can reopen under the one person per 4sqm rule (unvaccinated people will continue to only be able to access critical retail).
  • Personal services such as hairdressers and nail salons can open with one person per 4sqm, capped at five clients per premises.
  • Gyms and indoor recreation facilities can open under the one person per 4sqm rule with classes for up to 20 people.
  • Sporting facilities including swimming pools can reopen.

Stadiums, theatres and major outdoor recreation facilities

  • Major recreation outdoor facilities including stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos can reopen with one person per 4sqm, capped at 5,000 people.
  • Up to 500 people can attend ticketed and seated outdoor events.
  • Indoor entertainment and information facilities including cinemas, theatres, music halls, museums and galleries can reopen with one person per 4sqm or 75 per cent fixed seated capacity.

Weddings, funerals and places of worship

  • Up to 50 guests can attend weddings, with dancing permitted and eating and drinking only while seated.
  • Up to 50 guests can attend funerals, with eating and drinking while seated.
  • Churches and places of worship to open subject to one person per 4sqm rule, with no singing.

Travel

  • Domestic travel, including trips to regional NSW, will be permitted.
  • Caravan parks/camping grounds can open.
  • Carpooling will be permitted.
  • Non-vaccinated young people aged under 16 will be able to access all outdoor settings but will only be able to visit indoor venues with members of their household.
  • Employers must continue to allow employees to work from home.
  • There will be revised guidance on isolation for close and casual contacts who are fully vaccinated.

Masks

  • Masks will remain mandatory for all indoor public venues, including public transport, front-of-house hospitality, retail and business premises, on planes and at airports.
  • Only hospitality staff will be required to wear a mask when outdoors.
  • Children aged under 12 will not need to wear a mask indoors.

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