QR check-ins and two-metre rule mandatory in NSW from today

Several COVID-19 restrictions return in NSW today in an attempt to curb soaring infection numbers which have put "substantial pressure" on testing centres and furloughed about 2,000 healthcare workers.

Key points:

  • The capacity rules for indoor venues are in place until January 27
  • The Health Minister says everyone will get Omicron 
  • The Opposition says the government needs to have a better plan to manage the health care system

The arrival of the hyper-infectious Omicron variant of the virus triggered a backflip by the NSW government, which had relaxed many COVID-safe measures on December 15.

Mask mandates returned on Friday, with face coverings made compulsory in all indoor non-residential settings, including for hospitality staff and in offices, unless eating or drinking.

Today, mandatory QR code check-ins are back and apply to the following:

  • Retail premises
  • Food and drink premises
  • Pubs, small bars and registered clubs
  • Hairdressers, spas, nail, beauty, waxing, and tanning salons, tattoo parlours and massage parlours 
  • Gyms (except dance, yoga, pilates, gymnastics, and martial arts studios)
  • Hospitals
  • Residential care facilities or hostels (except in relation to the residents)
  • Places of public worship, like churches, mosques, temples, meeting houses and synagogues
  • Funeral, memorials and gatherings afterwards
  • Nightclubs
  • Casinos
  • Strip clubs, sex on premises venues, sex services premises
  • Indoor music festivals with more than 1,000 people.

The Premier calls the reintroduction of these rules "cautious changes".(ABC News: Timothy  Ailwood)

Hospitality venues including pubs, restaurants and clubs will again be subjected to a maximum one person per two square metres indoors until January 27.

Density limits for outdoors remain the same.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet called these "modest" and "cautious" changes.

The recent spike in cases is again battering the hospitality sector.

Infected staff or the hundreds in isolation have forced many businesses to close during what should be one of their busiest trading periods.

Publican Mitchell Crum is COVID-positive, along with a number of his employees.

The pandemic has been "crippling" for publican Mitchell Crum.(ABC News)

The pandemic has been "crippling" for his pub in the Sydney inner-city suburb of Chippendale, and having to again close early last week was "extremely hard".

"I couldn't continue like this for much longer to be honest, financially and emotionally, it's been a bit of a rollercoaster," Mr Crum said. 

Mr Perrottet said the pressure on businesses was among the challenges of living with the virus, and one that "we have to face up to". 

He also warned there will many more "sacrifices" and "inconveniences". 

'All going to get Omicron'

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said yesterday it was likely every person in NSW and the country would contract Omicron.

"We're all going to get Omicron," Mr Hazzard said.

"And if we're all going to get Omicron, the best way to face it is when we have full vaccination including our booster."

Mr Park says it is time the Premier showed some leadership.(ABC News)

Shadow Health Minister Ryan Park said the Premier was not showing any leadership in "holding up his hands and saying everyone is going to get Omicron".  

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"Where is the plan for our hospitals, where is the plan for more testing clinics?" Mr Park said.

"Where is the plan to increase our vaccination hubs and where is the plan to ensure our hospitals have enough staff?"

The state government yesterday urged people to only get tested if they have symptoms, are identified as close contacts, or as part of their travel requirements.

Mr Hazzard said wait times for COVID test results had ballooned to 48 to 72 hours, with many people waiting even longer than that to get a result.

"If you're not getting results until three or four days, which is the case, it may well be that you have developed a positivity or positive viral response anyway and you wouldn't know it," he said.

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Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

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