Australian Prime Minister of New South Wales Dominic Perrottet has called for patience and respect as the state emerges from the lockdown amid concerns that customer-facing staff could be at risk of abuse from the unvaccinated.
His hope is that the police should only be called as a last resort.
After 106 days, nearly 63,000 Covid-19 cases and 431 deaths, orders to stay at home have risen across NSW.
After surpassing that milestone with 70 percent double-dose vaccination early last week, gyms, cafes, restaurants, pools, shops, hairdressers and beauticians will reopen from Monday, allowing people to venture more than five kilometers from home.
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But as the lockdown ends for some, a “lockout” of the non-vaccinated begins; only the fully vaccinated will be able to enjoy the new freedoms.
Business owners and hospitality staff are nervous, the risk of transfer is high, and the risk of abuse even higher.
Perrottet acknowledged that problems are inevitable, but urged state residents to show patience, kindness and respect.
“We are the first state in the country to have implemented these plans,” he told the AAP.
“There will be challenges and difficulties as we go through this … but we certainly do not want the police to move through cafes and restaurants.
“It’s just not the condition I love and know.”
He dismissed concerns for business owners have been left out when it comes to dealing with angry people who are denied service.
Clear guidelines have been issued for them in terms of training staff and signage, he said.
“If a person feels insecure, if a business owner … feels insecure, then it’s important that they contact the police.”
“But it will be the same today as it will be tomorrow.”
Sydney bartender Lucy is one of those eager to be at the forefront when home bookings cease and people flood the pubs.
The place where the 34-year-old works will not hire a security guard to reduce costs after months of no trade, so other staff will be responsible for checking the borrowers’ vaccination status and ensuring they follow security measures.
“A lot of people are angry about having to be vaccinated and I’m worried they will try to make a point at the door,” Lucy told the AAP.
She returns to work after being stopped during each of the state shutdowns, but also feels exposed as the Delta variant continues to circulate throughout the city.
“I definitely feel in danger,” she said.
“I’m worried that a lot of the pubs will be environments where the virus can spread quite easily.”
The United Workers Union, which represents key front-line and public workers, has expressed concern that vaccination status staff will be put in precarious situations, and calls for clear binding rules for managers to protect staff as well as sanctions for non-compliance .
From Monday, indoor and outdoor gatherings are also allowed, with the ceiling last week being raised to 10 and 30 people respectively.
However, the unvaccinated remain barred until December.
“It’s been 100 days of blood, sweat and no beer, but we’re back in action tomorrow,” Perrottet told reporters Sunday.
“NSW is leading the country out of this pandemic.”
NSW on Saturday reached 90.3 percent first-dose vaccination coverage for the eligible, while 73.5 percent of the eligible population is now completely stung.
On its final day of lockdown Sunday, the state reported 477 new local Covid-19 cases and six deaths.
None of those who died – all men – were fully vaccinated.
There are 794 Covid-19 patients in NSW hospitals, with 159 in intensive care units and 76 in ventilators.