No turning back: Premier renews freedom pledge as NSW eyes 70 per cent mark

The NSW government is committed to restoring personal freedoms to fully vaccinated residents once the state hits 70 per cent double-dose coverage – regardless of COVID-19 case numbers.

Aug 30, 2021, updated Aug 30, 2021
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the state could reach 70 per cent single-dose vaccination coverage within days and at double-dose coverage – expected around mid-October – a number of freedoms will be restored to the fully vaccinated.

“We will stick to our word,” Berejiklian said on Sunday after announcing a record new locally acquired 1218 cases.

“No matter what the case numbers are doing – of course we want to see them come down – double-dose 70 per cent in NSW means freedom for those who are (fully) vaccinated.”

NSW also on Sunday reported six deaths – three people in their 80s and three in their 70s, none of whom were fully vaccinated, taking the death toll for the current outbreak to 89.

As of Saturday, 66 per cent of eligible NSW residents had got at least one vaccine dose and 35.9 per cent were fully vaccinated.

The government, having reached a six million jab target, last week announced a “treat” for fully vaccinated NSW residents allowing them to have small picnics outdoors.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell is confident that with rising vaccinations rates students can start a staggered return to school from October 25, building up to having all students back from November.8.

“If we have any hot spot areas that still have high case loads, then obviously we would need to look at what we do in those communities,” she told the Nine Network on Monday.

“But it’s just too early to say.”

However, there’s hope of an earlier return to school in the regions if a lockdown was lifted earlier, she said.

A survey of 50,000 public school teachers found about 70 per cent had one vaccination and 40 per cent were double vaccinated.

“So that is really encouraging,” Mitchell said.

Meanwhile, there’s a COVID-19 alert for Quality Medical Centre at Merrylands in western Sydney, covering last Monday to Saturday at various times.

NSW Health says anyone who attended at the times listed on the department’s website is a close contact and must get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result.

Fragments of the virus have been detected in sewage treatment plants servicing Trangie, Byron Bay, Temora, Cooma and Tamworth, which is concerning authorities as there are no known cases in these areas.

There were 25 new cases in the Western NSW health district reported on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases in the region in the current outbreak to 510.

There were also two more cases recorded in the Far West health district in Wilcannia, a small town where more than 10 per cent of the predominantly Indigenous population has now tested positive.

Elsewhere, authorities confirmed that a COVID-19 outbreak at Parklea prison in Sydney’s northwest has reached 31 cases. This includes at least 12 new COVID-19 infections.

Cases have also been uncovered at Silverwater prison.

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