BREAKING: New South Wales Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate

Density limits back

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In the wake of Wednesday's ambiguous emergency Cabinet Meeting, senior state officials have met to review and reinstate New South Wales' restrictions amid the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Premier Dominic Perrottet announced on Thursday afternoon, that from 11.59pm Thursday, December 23, masks will return for indoor public setting.

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"As of midnight tonight, we will be requiring that masks are worn in indoor settings," Mr Perrottet announced.

"We are encouraging people, particularly over the holiday period, if you can work from home, please work from home."

In addition to mask mandates, NSW officials have also reinstated density limits.

"We’ll be moving from hospitality venues indoors to two square metres from December 27 to January 27. And also the indoor face mask requirement will also be in place until January 27 as well.

"That’s just to ensure, as we move through this period of time, we do have that support for our health officers over this summer and holiday period," Mr Perrottet said. 

"In addition to that, we’re encouraging people not to mingle ... when you’re out and about at a restaurant or cafe or a pub or a club, please, where possible, don’t mingle.

"So we just ask everybody use personal responsibilities, please be cautious as we move through this phase."

- Premier Perrottet

The additional measures are an extension of two major changes announced earlier on Thursday in response to the developing pandemic. 

Earlier changes announced included free rapid antigen tests to be posted to NSW residents’ homes, while QR code check-ins will be once more mandated across all hospitality and retail settings.

In a snapshot from 12.01am Friday, 24 December:

  • Masks will be compulsory in all indoor non-residential settings, including for hospitality staff and in offices, unless eating or drinking. 

From 12.01am Monday, 27 December 2021:

  • QR code check-ins will be compulsory, including for hospitality and retail; and
  • Hospitality venues, including pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes will move to 1 person per 2 sqm rule indoors, with no density limit for outdoor settings.

All settings will remain in place until Wednesday, 27 January 2022.

With 80 per cent of the state's current outbreak of the Omicron variety, chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said New South Wales is currently experiencing both the circulation of Delta and the Omicron variant of Covid.

“Pulling together multiple pieces of evidence from overseas countries such as South Africa and the UK, and using some of our own emerging data, it indicates that infection with Omicron is likely to be milder than infection with Delta, with the risk of hospitalisation being around 60% to 80% less than for Delta."

“But the issue is the increased transmissibility, leading to high case numbers. And the impact this is having on vulnerable settings, vulnerable people and critical workforces. Such as our health and aged care workforce,” Dr Chant said.

Health authorities are also encouraging people that over the festive season they dance and sing outside.

“We are introducing those density restrictions and hospitality settings and discouraging activities we know are associated with increased transmission, singing, dancing, things often associated with fun."

“At this time of year we had to tell it as it is in terms of what other things associated with risk, especially indoors. Please take those activities outdoors, with lots of social distancing,” Dr Chant urged.


Join Tom Tilley with regular rotating co-hosts Jan Fran, Annika Smethurst and Jamila Rizvi on The Briefing, Monday - Saturday, for the day's headlines and breaking news as well as hot topics and interviews. Available on Listnr.

Triple M Newsroom

23 December 2021

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Triple M Newsroom

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