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NSW cases stay under 500 as state reopens

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NSW has confirmed another 496 local virus cases and eight more deaths, as millions of people enjoy their first day out of lockdown.

Monday’s case numbers were up slightly on the 477 reported on Sunday.

The toll from the state Delta outbreak has risen to 439 with the latest deaths. NSW Health is yet to release further details about the fatalities.

Earlier, Premier Dominic Perrottet called for patience as the state emerged from lockdown amid concerns customer-facing staff could be at risk of abuse from rebuffed unvaccinated people.

After 106 days and almost 63,000 COVID-19 cases, stay-at-home orders were lifted across NSW on Monday.

After the state surpassed a 70 per cent double-dose vaccination milestone, gyms, cafes, restaurants, shops and hairdressers can reopen and people are allowed to travel more than five kilometres from home.

There were wild scenes in some shops and bars as Sydneysiders rushed to enjoy freedoms denied for months.

But as the lockdown ends a “lockout” of the unvaccinated comes into place, with only the double jabbed able to enjoy the reopening.

Business owners and hospitality staff are nervous the risk of virus transmission is still high, alongside the risk of abuse from customers.

Mr Perrottet urged the state’s residents to show patience and respect.

“We’re the first state in the country that’s put these plans in place,” he said.

“There will be challenges and difficulties as we go through this … but we certainly don’t want to be having police moving through cafes and restaurants.

“That’s just not the state that I love and know.”

Mr Perrottet denied business owners had been left out on a limb when it came to dealing with people angry at being denied entry and in-venue service.

Clear guidelines had been issued in terms of training staff and signage, Mr Perrottet said.

“If an individual feels unsafe, if a business owner … feels unsafe, then yes, it’s important they do contact police,” he said.

The state’s Service NSW app-based vaccination passport is also yet to be rolled out, but residents can use the Medicare app to show proof of vaccination.

Sydney bartender Lucy is one of those anxious about being on the frontline when people flood the pubs.

The 34-year-old’s workplace won’t hire a security guard – after going months without income. Staff will be responsible for checking patrons’ vaccination status.

“A lot of people are angry about having to get vaccinated and I worry they will try to make a point at the door,” Lucy, who did not want her surname published, said.

While she’s keen to return to work, Lucy also feels exposed as the Delta variant continues to circulate throughout greater Sydney.

“I worry a lot of the pubs will be environments where the virus can spread pretty easily,” she said.

The United Workers Union, which represents essential frontline and public-facing workers, is concerned staff could face unsafe situations and has called for clearer, binding rules for bosses to protect staff.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said on Monday officers would deal with issues if needed.

From Monday, indoor and outdoor gatherings will also be permitted, with caps increased to 10 and 30 people respectively.

People who are not double-dose vaccinated effectively remain locked down until December.

Mr Perrottet also indicated he’s keen for international travel to resume as quickly as possible – with seven days of home quarantine for the fully jabbed – and potentially as soon as early November.

NSW on Saturday reached 90.3 per cent first-dose vaccination coverage for the eligible population, while 73.5 per cent are fully jabbed.

“It’s been 100 days of blood, sweat and no beers but we’re back in action,” Mr Perrottet said on Sunday.

-with AAP



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