NSW prepares to end mask-wearing, QR codes and jab certificates in certain settings

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NSW prepares to end mask-wearing, QR codes and jab certificates in certain settings

By Lucy Cormack and Mary Ward

For our free coronavirus pandemic coverage, learn more here.

NSW will abandon masks, QR codes and vaccination certificates in retail settings and restaurants, while school closures will end, as Premier Dominic Perrottet prepares to further ease COVID-19 restrictions ahead of Christmas.

Density limits will be scrapped from pubs and restaurants, while masks will only be compulsory on public transport, at airports and for unvaccinated indoor hospitality staff.

The additional freedoms will kick in when NSW reaches its 95 per cent double dose vaccination target or from December 15, whichever comes first, as the state moves to a COVID-normal future.

Masks will no longer be required in retail settings after NSW reaches the 95 per cent double dose vaccination target or December 15, whichever comes first.

Masks will no longer be required in retail settings after NSW reaches the 95 per cent double dose vaccination target or December 15, whichever comes first.Credit:Renee Nowytarger

Under changes to the recovery road map, QR code check-ins will only be required at high-risk venues including pubs, nightclubs, hospitals, gyms, hairdressers and beauty salons, funerals and indoor music festivals with more than 1000 people.

Mr Perrottet on Thursday said the state could confidently ease restrictions next month because of its high vaccination rate, with more than 92 per cent of people over 16 having been double-jabbed.

About 12.8 million jabs having been administered across NSW since the vaccination roll-out began, with 94.4 per cent of the state receiving one dose.

“The easing of these restrictions will allow people to get out and enjoy summer providing a boost for some of our hardest industries as we do everything we can to ensure we keep people safe as we learn to live with COVID,” Mr Perrottet said.

From Monday isolation requirements will cease for close contacts of positive cases at school sites.

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Students who are close contacts will be required to have a PCR test as soon as possible after being notified of any exposure.

They will be able to return to school immediately after returning a negative result, however they must provide negative rapid antigen home test results for the next seven consecutive days.

From November 29 schools will not need to close for deep cleaning, with enhanced cleaning practices considered sufficient.

From November 29 schools will not need to close for deep cleaning, with enhanced cleaning practices considered sufficient.Credit:Nick Moir

Masks will still be required for all school staff and high school students, however music lessons involving wind instruments and singing will be permitted outdoors within cohorts from Monday.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the changes would reduce disruption for students and families, while still maintaining the safety measures for everyone on site.

“Students already in isolation can return to school from Monday under this new approach,” she said.

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Despite the state government’s decision to change isolation rules for school children, Deputy Chief Health Officer Marianne Gale on Thursday said authorities were seeing significant transmission in schools and asked parents to keep children home if they have any symptoms.

Seven Sydney state schools were closed due to COVID-19 cases on Thursday: Auburn Girls High, Bass Hill Public, Belmore South Public, Carlingford Public, Fairfield West Public, Maroubra Bay Public and Sylvania High.

Since the start of November about one third of new cases have been in children aged 11 and under, who are too young to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

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While the bulk of Sydney’s COVID-19 infections have been in the city’s south-west and western health districts for many weeks, on Thursday most cases were recorded in South Eastern Local Health District.

The district – which stretches from the eastern suburbs to the Sutherland Shire – reported 69 new cases, a quarter of the state’s 276 cases on Thursday.

Thirteen infections were in Randwick council, 13 were in Sutherland, 10 were in Waverley, six were in Bayside, five were in Woollahra and five were in Georges River.

Eighty people inside a Byron backpackers hostel were placed in a seven-day lockdown on Thursday after an unvaccinated staff member tested positive.

Police said the COVID-positive person was working at the Aquarius Backpackers and had recently been in Victoria. No further cases have been identified.

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