Deputy Premier John Barilaro gave some hope that the Central Coast might see COVID-19 restrictions eased in coming weeks, with the announcement that the region, along with Shellharbour, will now be classed as regional NSW (as opposed to Greater Sydney) for Public Health Orders.
While regional NSW is set to remain in lockdown, along with Greater Sydney, until the end of August, Barilaro indicated in an exclusive interview with Coast Community News that regional restrictions could ease thereafter.
“Obviously we are very concerned with protecting the Central Coast from Sydney – and it also has connections to Newcastle,” Barilaro said.
“Sewage detection at Bateau Bay still worries us, but I am confident that by next Saturday we will be taking a local government approach to lifting restrictions in regional NSW.”
Any loosening of restrictions would take into account case numbers, sewage surveillance and the situation in neighbouring LGAs.
Barilaro said extra protection for the Central Coast would come from the introduction of permits which those leaving Greater Sydney for the Coast for essential reasons will have to obtain through Service NSW and display prominently on their windshields from August 21.
“Anyone leaving Sydney for the Central Coast must have been tested seven days prior,” he said.
Barilaro said vaccination news from the Central Coast was good, with multiple vaccination sites available.
He said 55 per cent of Coast residents had received one vaccination and 27.5 per cent had received double vaccination.
“This is on par with the State average so the trajectory is good to keep those jabs in line with Sydney,” he said.
Meanwhile, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said expectations were high that the state would achieve 80 per cent vaccination levels by mid-November, which would give greater freedom in loosening restrictions.
As far as a return to school for Central Coast students, Berejiklian said many more doses of the Pfizer vaccine would be available in September which high school students will be able to access.
“But in relation to school and the rural and regional communities, as the Deputy Premier said and the health experts have said, it really depends on the case numbers in rural and regional communities,” she said.
“We have used a model in the past where there has been a separation from Sydney and the regions and if that is safe from a health perspective we’ll do that.”
The full interview with
Deputy Premier John Barilaro is available below.