Sydneysiders trapped inside their homes for the past 106 long days couldn’t wait another minute to get back into the swing of things, flocking to pubs, pokie rooms and even hair dressers on the stroke of midnight.
NSW has finally been released from its gruelling Covid lockdown with double-dosed residents now allowed to hit the streets and see their mates after the state smashed its 70 per cent vaccination target last week prompting the stay-at-home orders to lift at 12:01am on Monday.
The milestone means most business can return to trading once again but with some capacity limits in place.
Long-suffering venues across the city welcomed back patrons with open arms on a weekday evening in October that felt more like a New Year’s Eve celebration prior to when the coronavirus pandemic gripped the world, cutting off friends and separating families.
A staff member at Sydney’s City Tattersalls club pops the cork of Champaign bottle as the clock hits 12:01am
A patron at Sydney’s City Tattersalls club shows a staff member her vaccination status before entering the venue
Some punters at Sydney’s Tattersalls club just couldn’t wait another minute to get back amongst the action after being cut off from mates for 106 long days
Customers must prove their vaccination status when they enter any venue in NSW or they will be refused
With only double-dosed residents allowed to enter non-essential venues in NSW, police set up a late-night roadblock along Parramatta Road as well as other main routes into the city to prevent unvaccinated lockdown rules breakers from heading into the CBD to join the festivities.
It’s been a particularly miserable three and half months for the coronavirus-ravaged Harbour City with residents subject to extremely harsh restrictions including the 5km travel bubble and even curfews in parts of the heavy-hit west.
But with horror winter months in the rear view mirror and the state prepared to ‘live with the virus’, it’s now party time once again.
A staff member at Sydney’s Tattersalls club in the CBD welcomed patrons inside by popping a Champaign bottle.
Ecstatic revellers had smiles from ear to ear as they rushed inside proudly flashing their digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate at the door to gain entry.
In the west, hundreds of excited locals arrived en masse at Canterbury Leagues Club with huge lines sprawling way out into the parking lot.
Even further west in Blacktown, there were similar scenes at Kmart.
Hundreds of midnight shoppers queued up for about 50 meters to get into the discount store which has only been allowed to operated using click and collect services during the lockdown.
Hundreds of excited locals arrived en masse at Canterbury Leagues Club with huge lines sprawling way out into the parking lot (pictured)
Guests just couldn’t wait to get back into the popular community club (Canterbury Leagues, pictured) after three and a half months away
Beer keg after beer keg was rolled into pubs and clubs across Sydney in preparation for tonight’s reopening
There were incredible scenes at Kmart in Blacktown (pictured) with hundreds lined up into the car park to go shopping at the discount chain
WHAT CAN I DO TODAY?
If you’ve had both shots of the vaccine you can now travel beyond the 5km bubble.
Sydneysiders can now move about anywhere across the Harbour City as far as the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, or Shellharbour.
Those living in regional areas are free to travel throughout the state.
But intrastate travel between Sydney and regional areas is still a no-go.
DRINKING AND GOING OUT:
Double-dosed residents can now head back to the pub with the one person per sq/m rule in place.
Dancing and standing up indoors is still banned, with nightclubs keeping their doors shut
SEEING FRIENDS AND FAMILY:
You can also have up to 10 friends inside their home or gather with 30 outdoors.
Your are now free to get a table at your favourite café or restaurant with the one person per sq/m rule also in place.
Again, only the fully-vaccinated are allowed
Gyms are now open to the fully vaccinated with up to 20 people allowed to workout indoors or in a class.
You can once again browse your favourite shops with retail stores allowed to operate under the one person per sq/m rule.
Catch a movie at the cinema with all indoor entertainment facilities allowed to trade at 75 per cent capacity.
This means theatres are also open, as are museums.
BEAUTY AND HAIR:
Personal services like haircuts are also permitted with five people allowed in the salon.
Nail salons, barbers and massage parlours will also be open.
But pubs and clubs weren’t the only venues raring to go at midnight, with barber shops and hair dressers jam-packed with customers, along with nail salons, eateries and retail stores.
One of the most hated lockdown restrictions was the ban on hair salons which meant Sydneysiders have not been able to get their locks chopped for months.
Some just couldn’t wait to rush in and get a new do.
Even stores that aren’t planning to open tonight have been taking the time to restock and clean their stores ahead of what is set to be a massive day of trade tomorrow.
Under the eased restrictions 10 double-dosed visitors are now allowed in the home with 30 permitted to gather outdoors.
Ousted state leader Gladys Berejiklian’s original roadmap had previously set the cap at five indoors and 20 outside, however just 24 hours after being sworn into office Mr Perrottet made the call to increase the capacity limits.
He also doubled the number of vaccinated guests permitted to attend weddings and funerals with 100 people able to take part in the ceremony, but they must remain seated when eating and drinking.
Face masks are no longer mandatory outdoors with the exception of hospitality workers actively serving customers.
Gyms, cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars, non-essential retail, libraries and churches can operate under the one person per 4sqm rule but nightclubs will remain closed.
Hairdressers and beauticians will also welcome back vaccinated clients but are restricted to a maximum of five in the premises at one time.
Gyms can have up to 20 clients per class while stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos can have up to 5,000 visitors.
Indoor entertainment facilities such as cinemas, theatres, music halls, museums and galleries can reopen with one person per 4sqm or 75 per cent fixed seated capacity.
Double-jabbed residents will now be able to venture more than 5km from their home with Sydneysiders able to venture anywhere across the Harbour City and even as far as the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, or Shellharbour.
Those outside of Sydney are also free to move about but intrastate travel is still off the cards between regional areas and Sydney for roughly another two weeks.
Further restrictions will be eased later this month once NSW hits 80 per cent vaccination, before freedoms open up to the unvaccinated from December 1.
Greater Sydney was plunged into lockdown on June 25 after a string of coronavirus cases in the Bondi area were linked to a limo driver ferrying international flight crew.
Health authorities drastically underestimated the speed at which the Delta variant would tear through the Harbour City with infections quickly becoming too much for the state’s contact tracers to handle.
Since the first known case on June 16 there have been 62,847 locally acquired transmission resulting in 487 deaths.
At its height the daily case number reached a spike of 1573 prompting harsher measures were brought in across Western Sydney, including curfews, to try and stop the spread.
As supplies of Pfizer eventually started to roll in, the state’s vaccination pace skyrocketed and those soaring case rates have now dropped to below 500 cases a day.
There are now 73.53 per cent of the population over 16 who are fully-vaccinated in NSW, with a staggering 90.33 per cent already receiving their first dose.