Locked down Sydneysiders could be allowed to visit pubs and bars within weeks – but there’s a catch.
The NSW government is reportedly in talks with the hospitality industry to allow venues to reopen as early as September, but only for fully vaccinated staff and patrons.
Watch epidemiologist Robert Booy discuss the plan in the video above
“Hospitality industry heavyweights” have been meeting with the government to “allow venues to open as soon as it is safe,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
The development comes despite the state recording 345 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, with at least 91 in the community while infectious.
The reporting period also saw two deaths from the disease, both Sydney men in their 90s.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian appears to have abandoned the target of zero cases infectious in the community.
She has replaced it with the hope that restrictions could be eased by September if enough people got vaccinated.
“Once we hit milestones, once you get to 50 per cent vaccination, 60 per cent, 70 per cent, it obviously triggers more freedoms,” she said on August 1.
The state looks set to break through the 50 per cent mark for vaccine coverage this week.
Some 49.02 per cent of NSW residents aged 16 and over have had one dose of the vaccine, and 25.06 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Epidemiologist Robert Booy told Sunrise that granting fully vaccinated people more freedoms was a good idea, but measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing would need to remain.
“Countries around the world are doing this already and it’s working,” he said on Friday.
“It’s an effective way forward and it’s a way the community can feel safe and get on with business at the same time.”
His comments are at odds with fellow expert Nancy Baxter, who argued that Sydney should have high vaccine rates before any lockdown measures can ease.
“People who are vaccinated can still get COVID,” she said on Thursday.
“If you’ve got 50 per cent of people vaccinated then you’ve still got half the people not vaccinated, so there are plenty of people for the virus to find that are susceptible to getting really sick and dying.”