As of September 23, NSW is now just 14 days away from reaching a major milestone in the state's vaccination rollout, with 70 per cent of adults over the age of 16 set to be fully vaccinated by October 7. As outlined in the state’s ‘roadmap to freedom’, reaching this target will allow the lockdown measures that have been in place for more than three months to begin easing, but exclusively for fully vaccinated people. If this projection is correct, stay-at-home orders could lift from October 11. This is far earlier than had been previously predicted, with speculative dates for Sydney’s so-called ‘freedom day’ ranging from October 14-18.
If vaccination rates can be maintained, reaching the next major milestone – having 80 per cent of eligible adults over the age of 16 fully vaccinated – should be achievable by October 17, just one week later. At this level of vaccination coverage, lockdowns will be retired for good. State premier Gladys Berejiklian has also suggested that overseas travel could be allowed to resume, although the power to reopen international borders remains with the prime minister and the federal government.
These projections are based on the seven-day average of vaccination rates in NSW, which currently leads the nation as the most jabbed state. As of September 23, 86.3 per cent of adults in the state had received at least one dose of a vaccine and 55.5 per cent of adults had been fully vaccinated. In fact, NSW’s vaccination rates are now amongst some of the highest in the world. Some Sydney LGAs in the city’s west and southwest are particularly impressive, with 92.4 per cent of adults in Blacktown and 90.4 per cent of adults in Campbelltown having now received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Berejiklian has stated multiple times that once lockdown measures begin lifting, returned freedoms will only be accessible to fully vaccinated people, which has helped to drive up vaccine uptake across the state, particularly in parts of Greater Sydney than until last week were living under the harshest lockdown measures ever implemented in NSW. To enforce this pledge, NSW will be introducing vaccination passports attached to the Service NSW app, however, the development of this technology is unlikely to be ready in time if the state manages to reach its 70 per cent vaccination target by October 11. Trials of the vaccination passport in regional NSW are not due to conclude until October 20.
Vaccination is now the nation's primary strategy for containing the Delta outbreak, which caught the nation off-guard when it breached Sydney’s quarantine measures in mid-June. Since then, every state and territory in Australia except for Tasmania has experienced an outbreak. Nationwide, there are currently 19,404 active cases Covid-19 being treated.