After a shocking few weeks of case numbers growing and a shortage of testing opportunities, the NSW government is set to announce a reversal of COVID restrictions in hopes to bring the Omicron strain of the virus under control.
NSW premier Dominic Perrottet will meet with the state’s COVID economic recovery committee this morning to finalise and sign off on the measures, which was decided after a meeting on Thursday.
After recording 70,000 cases in just two days, the restrictions will include shutting nightclubs and banning singing and dancing in pubs in an effort to quell the spread, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Hospitality venues will be discouraged from allowing “vertical consumption” in their establishments, and there will be a pause on some major events and elective surgeries, all assessed by NSW Health.
The premier noted on Thursday that the government was “looking at suspending” some procedures.
“During the Delta outbreak, and the year before, we suspended elective surgery for a period of time. That is certainly something we are looking at now,” he told 2GB radio.
Some of the new COVID restrictions are set to come into effect on Monday.
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Government sources told the media that this would not be a lockdown of any sort, but they are labelling it as “safety measures”.
This move marks a change of heart in the new NSW premier, who has repeatedly insisted since coming into office that NSW will not close again and stay open despite the escalating case numbers.
Last week however he warned that “targeted responses” would be implemented if the situation worsened.
“The alternative is, as we move through this next phase of the pandemic is to go back into lockdown,” Mr Perrottet said last Tuesday.
“That is not what we’re doing in NSW, that is not the alternative we’re considering.
“We’ve said we will tailor our response to the situation that comes. If evidence changes, we will have targeted restrictions in place. But the key metric here is vaccination rates, that is our key to success.”
Doctors and other experts informed The Guardian that while hospitalisation rates have increased, we are still a fortnight away from a rise in hospitalisations comparative to the increase in cases, providing the time it takes for patients to get ill enough to seek admission.
“There isn’t much sign of an uptick yet,” one senior NSW health official said. “But we are worried, very worried.”
Hospitals also share this concern, with a senior doctor saying that in keeping with the current trajectories, “in two weeks we will be having 400 admissions a day.”
For more on this topic, follow the Health & Wellness Observer.