How the new rules in NSW affect Canberrans

By Steve Evans

We are in a sort of limbo. The rules on what we can and can't do are changing.

In Queanbeyan and Yass and the other New South Wales border areas, the rules have just changed.

In the ACT, the rules will change at the end of the week.

So what are the differences this week?

Masks

In the ACT, the government says that with a few exceptions like eating and getting married, masks must be carried at all times. "All individuals aged 12 years and over must wear a face mask at all times upon leaving home, including in workplaces."

There are exceptions but the tone is: wear a mask unless we say you don't have to.

Across the border, the rule is less prescriptive: you must wear masks indoors except at home, and where people gather (like at a bus stop) or if you deal with the public. But the rules do not insist on masks outside if you are away from people.

The ACT

The rules this week in the ACT remain what they were last week. Canberra is in lockdown.

This means that your vaccination status gives you no more and no less freedom than anyone else's.

You can only leave home "for essential reasons". The ACT government has a long list of those reasons but the stand-out exemptions are:

  • To undertake essential work or study, if it can't be done at home or remotely.
  • To access childcare (including family day care).
  • To shop for essentials like groceries, medicine, and supplies that are essential for personal needs or for vulnerable people within your region (with no more than two members of the household to shop).
  • To obtain essential health care.
  • One household (any size) or up to five people can gather outdoors for up to four hours for physical or recreational activities.

Queanbeyan, Yass and border NSW

The rules now differ for fully vaccinated people from those for people who have had only one jab or none. There is a third category: those who can show they have not been vaccinated for a good medical reason.

Proof of vaccination can be demanded as a condition of entry to many places.

The NSW government says: "If you are required to be fully vaccinated to enter a premises, you may be asked to produce your vaccination evidence by the occupier. We encourage you to comply with an occupier's request.

"You do not have to produce your vaccination evidence to the occupier, however, the occupier may refuse entry to you if you do not produce your vaccination evidence."

So what is now open in NSW?

Shops in addition to those selling the basics like food - but only for those who are fully vaccinated. Those short of the full two jabs can still visit the essential places but not the new ones.

Places of recreation like pubs and gyms are also now open. Here are the rules as laid down by the NSW government:

Gyms and indoor recreation facilities

Gyms and indoor recreation facilities, such as a squash court, table tennis centre, health studio, bowling alley, and ice rink can open.

If you are not fully vaccinated you cannot visit a gym or indoor recreation facility.

Recreation facilities

Recreation facilities such as zoos, aquariums, sports stadiums, showgrounds, racecourses, motor racing tracks and theme parks, can open.

If you are not fully vaccinated you cannot visit a recreation facility.

Outdoor gatherings

Up to 30 people can participate in an outdoor gathering, for example, for outdoor recreation such as a picnic.

If you are not fully vaccinated you can gather with one other person or with your household.

Outdoor events

Outdoor events and gatherings can take place in NSW.

if you are not fully vaccinated you cannot attend an outdoor event.

The future

On Friday, the rules ease in the ACT. They will still be different from those in NSW. There will be limits to how many can be in a restaurant, for example.

A further easing in the ACT has been promised at the end of the month. But the ACT government has been more cautious in its route forward than has the NSW government.

Canberrans will have to wait a little longer to get a glimpse of Queanbeyan and its cross-border surrounds. Picture: Jeffrey Chan

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