New Public Health Advice for NSW reopening

New public health advice sets out how NSW will continue to tackle COVID-19 as the state begins to reopen when it reaches the 70 per cent double dose vaccination target.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said while high vaccination rates were the key factor in the roadmap to recovery, COVID-19 will continue to circulate in the community.

“NSW is leading the nation in so many ways with its pandemic response but particularly in its vaccination efforts. I urge those who are yet to get vaccinated to do so quickly to protect yourself, your loved ones and the community,” Mr Hazzard said.

“We are closing-in on the 70 per cent double dose mark and when we achieve it there will be significant changes to our public health advice and the key difference will be how that advice is applied to people who are vaccinated and to those who are not.

“Vaccination will provide greater freedoms as our society opens up and it reduces the risk of you spreading the virus to someone vulnerable, which could cost them their life.

“Despite the ongoing challenges that will continue to be posed by COVID-19, we have the opportunity to lead the world which is why it is vital everyone is vaccinated and follows the updated public health advice that will be in place from 11 October.”

Some of the key public health advice for the general community will be:

  • Everyone, vaccinated and not vaccinated, is urged to get tested if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 and immediately self-isolate until a negative result is received.
  • Whether you are vaccinated or not vaccinated, if you test positive for COVID-19 you must self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Close contacts in the community will include household members of positive cases and close social contacts of positive cases, such as partners and friends, who you spent time in close proximity with, even if fully vaccinated. Anyone may also be assessed as a being a close contact following a risk assessment, including at workplaces, high-risk settings, such as healthcare and aged care, and other specific settings such as schools and child care centres, or where an outbreak has been identified.
  • If you are a close contact of a positive case and vaccinated, you must get tested and self-isolate for seven days. On day six after exposure, you must get tested again. If a negative result is received and you are well, you can end isolation after day seven. For the following seven days you must work from home where practicable, not attend hospitality settings, and not attend a high-risk settings even if it is your place of work.
  • If you are a close contact of a positive case and not vaccinated you must get tested and immediately self-isolate for 14 days. On day 12, you should get tested again. If a negative result is received, you can end isolation after day 14.
  • The Service NSW QR code check-in system will remain in place in the general community. This system will be used to notify people who were in the same venue as a positive case. People will be asked to monitor for symptoms and get tested if they become unwell. Other settings, including schools, workplaces and high-risk settings, such as healthcare and aged care, will have specific risk assessment approaches.
  • People aged 16 years and over will only be allowed entry into some venues or settings if fully vaccinated, along with people with exemptions. In some venues, children under 16 will have to be accompanied by a fully vaccinated member of their household to enter. This includes hospitality venues, non-critical retail stores, personal services, sporting, recreation and entertainment facilities and events. Critical retail such as supermarkets and pharmacies will still be accessible to those not fully vaccinated. There are several options to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or exemption.

Some of the key public health advice for the business community will be:

  • If a staff member tests positive, whether they are vaccinated or not vaccinated, they must self-isolate for 14 days and follow the advice from NSW Health. Businesses will refer to their COVID-19 Safety Plan and risk assessment approach for further instructions on notifying other staff.
  • Businesses must inform NSW Health if three or more employees test positive for COVID-19 in a seven-day period.
  • NSW Health guidelines will enable businesses to assess workplace risk if a COVID-19 case is identified and confirm actions to be taken.
  • Businesses can reduce the risk of closure or staff going into isolation by implementing rigorous COVID-19 Safety Plans. Other proactive steps businesses can take include ensuring staff are vaccinated and implementing regular onsite testing programs for workers.

With respect to vaccination compliance and obligations:

  • Businesses will be responsible for taking reasonable measures to stop unvaccinated people entering premises. For example, having prominent signs stating requirements, Service NSW QR codes, staff checking vaccination status upon entry and only accepting valid forms of evidence of vaccination.
  • Authorised officers will monitor businesses re-opening, particularly those that have vaccination requirements, for example hospitality, retail, gyms, and personal services (e.g. hair, beauty).
  • Penalties may apply for individuals and businesses who don’t comply. On the spot fines of $1,000 may apply to individuals for not complying, or for using fraudulent evidence of vaccination or check-in. On the spot fines of $5,000 may apply to businesses for not complying with the Public Health Order vaccination requirements. Further penalties may apply for significant breaches.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said it is important to note that the new advice may be updated by NSW Health as case numbers and evidence changes.

“We will continue to do what we have done throughout this pandemic, which is to regularly update our advice, informed by experience, feedback, and emerging evidence. It is only in partnership that we can reopen in a safe way.”

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