RIP to your Airbnb travel plans because travel between Greater Sydney and regional NSW has been delayed till November 1st.
Yesterday, 9 News reported that the NSW Government was delaying regional travel from next week’s freedoms for Sydneysiders after we hit 80%.
As of this morning and after a cabinet meeting last night, however, Deputy Premier Paul Toole announced it had been delayed further due to concerns about the vaccine rates of regions outside of Greater Sydney.
Mr Toole told 2GB’s Ben Fordham that “some of our [regional] communities actually want [the travel ban] to be longer”, with vaccination rates in some regional areas lagging behind the rest of the state.
While 77.77 percent of the state’s 16 and over population has received both doses of the COVID vaccine, the vaccination rates in some regional and rural communities are considerably lower.
According to the ABC, in the Byron Bay LGA, only less than 50 percent of those eligible are fully vaccinated. The Hunter region’s Cessnock and Clarence Valley, both popular travel spots for Sydney residents, has just 58.4 percent and 56.6 percent of their population fully vaxxed.
With these areas having such low vaccine rates, reopening them to other parts of the state could see a dramatic spike in cases and hospitalisations. Waiting to resume regional travel until regional and rural areas reach 80% fully vaccinated could be the defining factor between a mild outbreak and a devastating effect on a small community.
Earlier this week, Premier Dominic Perrottet held a cabinet meeting with key ministers and health officials to discuss regional travel, saying that COVID cases in regional areas would probably rise after Greater Sydney is given unlimited travel in the state.
“We certainly believe, based on the advice we’ve received from [NSW] Health, that there will be naturally an increase in case numbers, in hospitalisations, as mobility increases across the state,” he said earlier this week, per 9 News.
So, yeah, maybe don’t book that Airbnb with the gang yet, just in case.
With this new November 1st date, it seems like regional and international travel could likely resume at the same time. NSW is reportedly planning to reopen international flights in just three weeks. Fortunately, if you’re in Queensland or the ACT, you can now enter NSW without following stay-at-home rules.