There has been a lot of reaction to the release of the NSW “Roadmap to Freedom” so here are some links to coverage that I think is relevant to the event industry.
Vaccine passports will need much tougher security layers than existing check-in apps offer, say technology experts as the race to develop an appropriate system heats up.
The announcement of eased restrictions in Sydney for the fully vaccinated after the state reaches 70 per cent is welcome. It recognises that a differentiated approach to individual risk is available along the way to high vaccination coverage, and further incentivises vaccination. This should also assuage concerns about the risks posed by COVID transmission beyond 80 per cent vaccination coverage: there will be no “letting it rip”.
But the road map still offers NSW residents and businesses confidence that an end date to the misery of lockdown is in view. That’s much less apparent in the midst of Victorian gloom with rapidly rising cases and a slower pace of vaccination. (And no, this is not just because NSW received extra supplies of Pfizer in July and August.)
Small business owners in New South Wales have broadly welcomed the state government’s reopening roadmap, but there are concerns about how they will ensure they are only serving customers who are fully vaccinated, and the additional pressure this could place on business owners and their staff.
The projected date for reaching the 70% level of vaccine cover in New South Wales puts the likely easing date five and a half weeks from now. That is time enough to bring the case numbers down; they don’t have to be zero, just low enough to have eased pressure on the health system and to allow more minimal safety measures to keep numbers in check from there. In the second wave, Victoria dropped from its peak of 725 cases to under 50 cases a day in just five and a half weeks.
Grattan Institute health economist and former health bureaucrat Stephen Duckett said, even though the plan was subject to the significant caveat that local areas could be placed under tighter restrictions if cases rise, “one person’s freedom is another person’s going to hospital”.
“This plan was developed by business for business. They said right up front ‘the Deputy Premier has worked with industry to develop this road map,’” he said.
On America’s Fourth of July weekend this year, the summer beyond the pandemic seemed just over the horizon. Almost 60 per cent of Americans were fully vaccinated against COVID, mask mandates had been thrown out around most of the country, and in Massachusetts, thousands of tourists descended on Cape Cod as they had before the pandemic, to celebrate after a long winter. But the highly contagious Delta variant was already loose there and, within days, hundreds of people were infected.
Nearly three-quarters of them were fully vaccinated.
Some epidemiologists say people in Victoria and NSW who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should immediately be given additional freedoms, such as interstate travel and quarantine exemptions.