New South Wales businesses are set to reopen their doors from Monday, following the state hitting the 70% double-vaccination threshold. But, while some businesses are ready and “raring to go”, others are still facing uncertainty days before welcoming customers again.
On Wednesday, NSW passed the threshold of 70% of the eligible population having received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. In line with the reopening roadmap, that means businesses will be able to reopen their doors from Monday, but with tight restrictions in place.
While NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has announced some changes to the reopening roadmap, he confirmed that the reopening date would not be changed.
He also suggested more guidance for businesses will be provided within the next 24 to 48 hours, particularly with regards to how to manage and enforce restrictions on serving unvaccinated people.
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Perrottet also said there will be “further updates” about QR code check-in requirements ahead of Monday, following feedback from the business community.
“There will be some further guidelines or strength in communications around that for businesses over the next couple of days,” he said.
“That’s one of the reasons as well why we’re not bringing that date forward to Friday,” he added.
“We need stability and certainty for the business community.”
Are businesses prepared for reopening?
The owner of one fitness franchise with locations in Sydney says his teams are “ready and raring to go” ahead of reopening on Monday.
Matej Varhalik is the co-founder and chief executive of SpeedFit, a business with four studios in Sydney, plus one in Gosford and one in Newcastle, NSW.
He and his team are focusing on reopening with options for everyone.
“Our business can go straight to full capacity as we operate in a boutique, highly personalised environment,” he explains.
It will also offer both indoor and outdoor sessions, with vaccine passports required before arrival, as well as continuing their at-home offering for those who are either not vaccinated yet, or who simply don’t feel comfortable attending the gym in person just yet.
“We are equipped to offer options so clients can keep training.”
But in other sectors, things are not quite so clear cut. Purely Polished is a beauty and wellness business linking customers with service providers to offer at-home treatments.
Founder and chief executive Iman Davamoni tells SmartCompany she and her whole team have “mixed feelings” about the reopening.
They’re excited, she explains, and Sydney is one of its biggest markets. But, having to refuse services to unvaccinated customers has “left us feeling really uncomfortable”.
Davamoni is starting to put a policy together, creating a way to make bookings as simple as possible for both customers and service providers, and an easy way for providers to understand who’s vaccinated and who isn’t.
But for her business, and others in the beauty sector, there are still some grey areas, she notes.
The rules around entering people’s homes to provide beauty and wellbeing services are not entirely clear, for example, especially when it comes to social distancing requirements.
So, while she will welcome clarification from the NSW government in the next 24 to 48 hours, “it is a bit too late,” Davamoni says.
“Whenever I call these Service NSW they’re unable to provide any details,” she adds.
“It would have been more welcomed maybe at least a week ago, just so that we can get ready and have the policy on the website.”
What’s changed in the reopening roadmap?
Changes to the reopening roadmap that come into effect from Monday include a further increase on the number of people allowed to visit the home and to gather outside.
Swimming pools will also be able to reopen, and caps on weddings and funerals have been lifted from 50 people to 100.
There have also been changes to bring forward the return to schools.
Under the new roadmap, nightclubs will be able to reopen when NSW hits the 80% double-vaccination threshold, but for seated service only — effectively operating as bars.
At this point, face masks will not be required in office buildings.
As it stands, there are no plans to bring forward the reopening for unvaccinated customers, scheduled for December 1.