Australia Covid news live: NSW, Victoria lockdown restrictions and Sydney, Melbourne cases

The Premier is expected to reveal NSW’s 80 per cent vaccination freedom plan today, with reports unvaxxed people could be facing indefinite restrictions.

Welcome to Monday’s live coverage of Australia’s Covid-19 situation.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian is expected to unveil her plan for what life looks like when NSW reaches its 80 per cent vaccination goal today.

NSW recorded 961 Covid cases and nine deaths on Sunday.

Victorians are anxiously waiting to hear today’s Covid numbers, after confirming a record 847 cases on Saturday and 779 infections and two deaths on Sunday.

Follow below for today’s top updates. Keep refreshing the page for the latest developments.

Indefinite lockdown for unvaxxed looms

Unvaccinated NSW residents could be living with lockdown restrictions for some time, as ministers eye off a 90 per cent vaccination target before they are granted extra freedoms.

When unvaccinated residents can come out of lockdown has been a hot topic, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian repeatedly saying unvaxxed will be locked down even beyond the 80 per cent vaccination goal.

Ministers have indicated to The Sydney Morning Herald that things like sporting events, regional travel, pubs and restaurants may remain off limits to unvaccinated people until 90 per cent of the state is double vaxxed.

With NSW’s first dose vaccination rate for people over 16 sitting at 84.5 per cent, it is not yet guaranteed that the state will reach the 90 per cent fully vaccinated mark, meaning unvaccinated residents could be locked down indefinitely.

One minister told The Sydney Morning Herald that even having 80 per cent of the adult population vaccinated meant 1.6 million people would still be unprotected against Covid, posing a great risk to the healthcare system.

“The other states aren’t going to let people in if they’re not vaccinated,” said the minister.

“You might be able to catch a Manly ferry, but that’s about all.”

They also questioned whether unvaccinated people should be allowed to attend weddings.

It comes as Ms Berejiklian is expected to unveil NSW’s 80 per cent freedom plan on Monday, which is expected to include details of what life will look like for both vaccinated and unvaccinated residents.

Confusing detail in new NSW freedom

Outdoor swimming pools can reopen across NSW from today, but some facilities have indicated a strange rule will be attached to the freedom.

From 12.01am on Monday September 27, Sydney residents can resume swimming in outdoor public pools either within their LGA or within 5km of their home.

This rule also applies to Sydney’s 12 areas of concern.

However, some pools have indicated that, while they will welcome back swimmers, change rooms will remain closed and only outdoor showers will be allowed to be used.

The new freedom will be made available to both vaccinated and unvaccinated residents, despite it originally being touted as a reward for the fully vaccinated, like the “picnic rule”.

Even on Sunday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said over 18s wanting to enter the pool would need to be fully vaccinated.

However, this was later rebuffed by NSW Health’s Dr Jeremy McAnaulty saying unvaccinated people can still exercise outdoors, including at outdoor pools.

Though the current outdoor gathering restrictions still apply, with vaccinated residents allowed to attend a pool in groups of five and unvaccinated allowed to attend in groups of two.

Some pools have said they will be limiting swimming time to two hours and the one person per four square metre rule will be in place.

Gladys to unveil 80 per cent plan today

Premier Gladys Berejiklian is expected to reveal today what life will look like for NSW when it hits its 80 per cent double vaccination goal.

Ms Berejiklian said NSW crisis cabinet was finalising the details of the plan on Sunday, with 7News reporting the details will likely be shared today.

Much like the 70 per cent freedom plan, the 80 per cent roadmap will cover what extra restrictions can be eased across the state.

It is also expected to cover what life will look like for unvaccinated people beyond the 80 per cent mark, after Ms Berejiklian said unvaxxed residents wouldn’t be given the same freedoms as vaccinated residents until some time after that vaccine milestone is reached.

New freedoms triggered by the state 70 per cent of the NSW population being vaccinated are expected to come into force on October 11.

Some of the freedoms for vaccinated residents will include allowing household visitors, increasing outdoor gathering limits, reopening hospitality and retail venues, increasing capacity limits for weddings and funerals and reopening stadiums, theatres and major outdoor recreation facilities.

Domestic travel was also set to resume under the plan, but Ms Berejiklian said that freedom may have to be delayed for Sydneysiders until the state reaches 80 per cent vaccination coverage.

“We had foreshadowed it was likely to be at 70 per cent, it may very well be at 80 per cent,” she said on Sunday.

“In NSW, it is definitely safe to book for Christmas and to think ahead for the future.”

How Victoria will look when ‘double vaxxed’

Trials for a “double vax” economy will roll out in parts of Victoria next month.

Hospitality, hairdressing and beauty businesses in regional parts of the state with high vaccination rates will be included in the trials to test how a “vaccinated economy” would work.

“This is a really important step on the paths towards becoming an open vaccinated economy,” Major Events and Jobs Minister Martin Pakula said on Sunday.

“We need these trials to ensure that we understand all the potential issues that might arise,” he said.

There would be up to 20 trial sites and would take place in the council areas of Buloke, Pyrenees, Bass Coast, Greater Bendigo, East Gippsland and Warrnambool from October 11.

The date is about two weeks before Victoria is due to hit the 70 per cent double dose target.

“Potentially country race meetings, concerts, community gatherings — all of those types of events — will be able to be considered for trials of the double vax economy,” Mr Pakula said.

Training for staff and supports for business owners and public communication of vaccine requirements would be part of the trials, he said.

The trials would also help establish the best way to show someone’s proof of vaccination status and how the Commonwealth’s data could be integrated with the existing Victorian app.

– Additional reporting NCA NewsWire

Looming problem if QLD and WA don’t open

Both states are in no hurry to open their borders, but Queensland and Western Australia could find themselves vulnerable to unprecedented legal issues as the rest of Australia embraces ‘Covid normal’ in the coming months.

In an interview on The Sunday Project, constitutional lawyer Professor Kim Rubenstein said that anyone adversely affected by the states’ refusal to open their borders could have grounds for a case.

“Any person who is impacted by these restrictions and who can show that this is a disproportionate burden on trade [could mount legal action],” she said.

“So that if it can show that it is, in fact, protecting one state over the other, without a legitimate or proportional response, then it really is available for challenge. And we may, in fact, see that ahead of us.”

Prof. Rubenstein explained that the Australian constitution “was motivated by a desire to travel freely across the country. Colonies were finding it difficult to have barriers around trade. Section 92 was placed there to discourage any restriction of travel within Australia.”

Professor Rubenstein said the court would examine “whether these restrictions are needed for the purpose that they‘re seeking to achieve in terms of health protection.”

If they’re found wanting, the state could be much more “vulnerable” to legal action.

Last week, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was met with criticism when she dashed hopes of interstate reunions for Christmas – regardless of whether vaccination targets are met.

– Nick Bond

Originally published as Australia Covid news live: NSW considering major milestone to release unvaxxed from lockdown


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