COVID-19

319 new cases, 2 deaths as double vax milestone nears

The latest drop in numbers comes as the state is on the verge of achieving a major vaccine milestone that would unlock several new freedoms from Monday.The state will pass the magic 80 per cent double dose vaccination target as early as today, unlocking yet more freedoms after lockdown restrictions were eased in Sydney on Monday.Double vax rates currently stand at 78.8 per cent of residents aged 16 and over.Yesterday, Premier Dominic Perrottet said he expected the state would reach its 80 per cent target over the weekend.“We set out a road map which from Monday will provide a removal of a number restrictions that have been put in place,” he said.As of Monday, home visitations would increase from 10 people to 20 with outdoor gatherings increasing from 30 to 50 people.Standing while drinking in pubs will also be allowed and there will be no limit on guest numbers for wedding and funerals.‘Nervous’ bush MPs don’t want visitors yetIt comes as it was revealed unprecedented demand to travel together with lower vaccination rates in the bush was the reason behind the NSW Government decision to delay reg­ional travel.Nervous regional MPs pushed the Government to hold off on allowing holiday-starved Sydney-siders from ­descending into regional areas where jab rates are still lagging behind the city.Latest FB numbersThey’re also worried reg­ional hospitals won’t be able to cope with a breakout.In popular tourist locations such as Byron Bay, flight bookings by the end of November are expected to be double from what they were before the pandemic as tourists take advantage of cheap flights being offended by regional ­airlines.Describing it as a “tough” decision to delay regional travel, Deputy Premier Paul Toole said more than 77 per cent of regional LGAs were expected to be fully vaccinated by November 1.“We have looked at the health modelling and listened to feedback from regional communities who want more time to get their double dose vaccination rates up as high as possible before they welcome back visitors,” he said.“We know businesses in ­regional NSW were getting ready to welcome people back, but it’s important we get this right so that when we re-open travel to the regions, they can remain open.”Ballina MP Tamara Smith said she had been “very nervous” at the prospect of thousands of tourists descending on the electorate, which encompasses Byron Bay.“In the Ballina local government area, 90 per cent of ­people have had their first jab and in Byron, 80 per cent,” the Greens MP said.“That’s thousands of people who are unvaccinated or half-vaccinated. With a million of people coming, we need to know hospitals can manage.”Vax certificate won’t linkBusinesses have welcomed the ability for Covid-19 digital vaccination certificates to be integrated into the Service NSW app.But people are finding it hard to do so, with a great deal of frustration yesterday.Since Monday, when vaccination status was required of patrons for entry, business had had to bear the responsibility of checking.John Green, Director of Liquor and Policing at the NSW Australian Hotel’s Association said combining vaccination status with QR check-in will “take pressure off venue staff”.Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello also sang its praises.But yesterday, a rush on downloading the certificate to the NSW Services app site was met with frustration with people complaining it wasn’t working on Twitter.“I’ve wasted a whole day trying to get this to work. I give up now,” one said.

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