In a shock announcement, NSW’s Deputy Premier has revealed a highly-anticipated freedom will now be pushed back until November.
Welcome to Friday’s live coverage of Australia’s Covid-19 situation.
Premier Dominic Perrottet is expected to reveal a major change to NSW’s roadmap today, as the state hurtles towards its 80 per cent vaccination goal.
NSW recorded 400 Covid cases and four deaths on Friday.
Victorian has recorded another day of high Covid cases, with 2179 infections and six deaths. It comes after the state confirmed a record day of infections yesterday, with 2297 cases and 11 deaths.
Follow below for today’s top updates. Keep refreshing the page for the latest news.
Regional travel pushed back to Nov 1
NSW residents have been dealt another blow following the news regional travel will be delayed, with the Deputy Premier revealing the freedom will be delayed until November 1.
Deputy Premier Paul Toole made the surprise revelation about the new regional travel date on 2GB on Friday morning.
“Regional travel will be allowed from November 1,” Mr Toole said.
He said the decision was made to keep regional communities safe and opening with the current vaccination rates in some areas would put communities in “jeopardy”.
Earlier reports suggested the freedom would be pushed back by just a week until October 25, but now residents will have to wait more than two weeks.
Mr Toole apologised to NSW residents, saying he knew the change was “frustrating” but claiming many regional communities “are scared”.
“I know its frustrating, I know that. But I have also got to get the balance right and you know some of the communities actually want it to be longer,” he said.
“I am sorry for those people who have actually had their bags packed and those people that want to go to regional communities.”
NSW records 400 cases and four deaths
NSW has recorded 400 new locally acquired Covid-19 cases and four deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
Victoria records 2179 cases and six deaths
Victoria has recorded 2179 locally acquired Covid-19 cases and six deaths in the 24 hours to midnight last night.
Backlash to ‘nightmare’ rule change
The government’s backflip on regional travel for Greater Sydney has come has prompted fury from residents, with the decision coming as a blow to already struggling regional businesses.
Deputy Premier Paul Toole announced today that travel between Greater Sydney and regional areas would be delayed until November 1, despite the rest of the 80 per cent freedoms on the NSW roadmap kicking in from Monday.
Owner of Sierra Escape Glamping in Mudgee, Cameron D’Arcy, said he and his team are “absolutely devastated” by the decision, with the business relying heavily on tourism from Greater Sydney.
“Not only do we now have to deal with another two weeks of cancellations, another two weeks of lost revenue (on top of the already four months of lost bookings), but our faith in the government to effectively lead us out of this mess is completely eroded,” he told news.com.au.
“There are areas in regional NSW -in fact most of regional NSW – where the vaccination rates are above the state average, and to be held back because of a few lacking areas completely blows my mind.
“I am all for protecting regional NSW health systems, but these policies make absolutely no sense, when you realise that much of Western NSW has vaccination rates above 95 per cent single and 80 per cent double, and other Regional areas not far behind.”
Mr D’Arcy said the whole lockdown has had “profound” monetary, physical and mental impacts on not only the business, but his suppliers as well.
“The uncertainty is an absolute killer. We are resilient and have adapted and done our best to hibernate with no income, and come back stronger. But when the goalposts constantly shift, and the Government doesn’t stick to it’s word, it’s a nightmare,” he said.
Mr D’Arcy said he wrote to two ministers and the Premier himself regarding his concerns but received no response.
“They promise our livelihoods back once we reach certain vaccination rates, and then change their minds. What assurances can be made that November 1st won’t be moved a few days out? he said.
“We can’t keep going on like this! People want to see their family, people want their businesses back. People want their state back.”
Major freedom delayed for vaxxed NSW
The NSW government is expected to backtrack on a promised freedom for vaccinated residents, just days out from when new eased restrictions are set to kick in.
Greater Sydney residents hoping to reunite with friends and family or set off on a regional holiday will have to delay their plans, as the government prepares to extend the ban on regional travel.
The state is expected to hit its 80 per cent double vaccination goal this weekend, a target that will trigger a range of freedoms from the following Monday – likely to be October 18.
Travel between Greater Sydney and regional NSW has continually been touted as one of those freedoms, but it is understood Thursday’s crisis cabinet meeting resolved to delay this freedom.
It comes after Premier Dominic Perrottet revealed there were “concerns” that some regional areas with lower vaccination rates could be put at risk.
It will be the second time officials have backtracked on easing this restriction, with the freedom initially set to kick in at the 70 per cent vaccination target, before being pushed back to the 80 per cent goal.
However, the rest of the roadmap is still expected to go ahead as planned and, if vaccination rates continue to grow, will kick in from Monday.
Some of the new freedoms will include having 20 visitors to a home, standing and drinking at the pub, 3000 people at ticketed outdoor events, density limits will be removed for hairdressers and other personal care services and there will be no limit on the number of fully vaccinated guests at weddings and funerals.
NSW’s VaxPass launches for Sydney residents
Getting your hands on Friday drinks will be a whole lot easier today as people across NSW are be able to use a new vaccine passport system for easy access to shops, pubs and cafes — after a big change was quietly brought in on Thursday.
It means that, for those who have the updated Service NSW app on their phones, they no longer have to trawl through Medicare to find their vaccination certificates when entering a business.
Instead, when they check-in into a business, using the normal QR code method, a green tick will appear to showed they are fully-vaccinated.
Although there was no announcement of the change, which was supposed to be rolling out from Monday, residents in Sydney noticed they could access the new system from Thursday night.
– Ben Graham
Decision on lockdown will be made in the coming days
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed the state is still on track to ease restrictions this month, despite the state’s record number of Covid cases today.
When asked whether this meant the government was pushing ahead with freedoms because Victorians are sick of lockdowns, Mr Andrews said he “would not put it that way”.
“So, we have, fundamentally, a very important agreement with the Victorian community – you get vaccinated and we will open up, and I do what I say,” he said.
“So, that is why we are going to be opening up because people have got vaccinated in record numbers in record time and they should be proud of that and I am proud of them are deeply grateful to them.”
Mr Andrews said there would be discussions over the next few days about when lockdown will end, but made it very clear that the Victorian government “will deliver the roadmap”.
“We will answer questions about when the lockdown ends, the precise moment, as well as any additional steps, any changes to be roadmap we can make, but we are going to deliver the roadmap,” he said.
65 per cent of Aussies now fully vaccinated
Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed on Thursday that 65.4 per cent of Australians over the age of 16 have now received two doses of a Covid vaccine.
At least 83.6 per cent have received one dose.
“So, that protection is really coming in around the country. It’s a very important number and I want to thank Australians who are coming back for their second dose, and continue to urge them to do it,” Mr Hunt said.
“For those that haven’t had their first dose yet, there is ample access right around the country and we would urge you to continue to come forward. Those numbers are increasing every day, but we’d urge you to continue to come forward.”