Further easing of restrictions in NSW as kids return to classrooms

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Preschoolers and students in grades 1 and 12 will return to school on Monday, with the remainder to go back the week after.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said audits have been carried out and will continue to be conducted to ensure that natural ventilation is maximised to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

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“Thanks to the individual ventilation audit reports, principals know exactly how to use their spaces in a COVID-safe way – and any issues identified by the audit are being fixed in real-time,” Ms Mitchell said.

The state government said $100 million is being allocated to an air quality assurance program for schools as part of the economic recovery program.

Premier Dominic Perrottet urged parents to have confidence in the state’s plan to keep kids safe.

“We believe the measures we have in place means we can open classrooms safely … It is incredibly important that we get kids back to school as soon as possible,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“We know it’s great for them and for parents.”

Further easing of COVID-19 restrictions 

A range of COVID-19 restrictions are being relaxed on Monday, only a week after stay-at-home orders were lifted across the state.

The move was triggered by the state’s vaccination rates reaching the milestone of 80 per cent on Saturday. 

Some 91.9 per cent of people aged 16 and over have now had one dose of a vaccine and 80 per cent both.

Community sport can resume, dancing at hospitality venues is allowed again, and masks will no longer be required in offices.

What changes this week:

  • Fully vaccinated people can have up to 20 people to their home and 50 people can gather outdoors
  • There won’t be any caps on hospitality venue bookings and patrons will be able to have a boogie – except at nightclubs, which will be allowed to open for the first time
  • The 100-person cap for weddings and funerals will be removed, as will the five-person cap for beauticians and hairdressers
  • Masks will no longer be required in office buildings.

All freedoms are limited to the fully vaccinated until December.

On Sunday, NSW added 301 new locally acquired infections to its COVID-19 caseload, and reported another 10 deaths. 

Funding boost for mental health initiatives

Premier Perrottet on Sunday also announced a $130 million mental health package to address the “untold story of the pandemic”.

Thousands across the state had suffered under restrictions that prevented them from visiting family and friends, or going to school or work, he said.

Self-harm and eating disorders in NSW have been on the rise, and intervention is sorely needed, the premier said.

“We don’t want anyone to slip through the cracks but ultimately that will only go so far,” Mr Perrottet said of the funding.

“We (also) need to look after each other to get through this difficult time.”

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Mental Health Minister Bronnie Taylor said the funding will provide more appointments for psychology and psychiatry services throughout the state, address the sharp rise in eating disorders and self-harm presentations, and free up more mental health beds.

Masters students with be brought on board to help drive down wait lists for mental health support and meet demand.

It will also launch what the state government describes as the biggest suicide prevention training program ever undertaken.

“We’re going to train up to 275,000 people to be able to go out there and have conversations about mental health,” Ms Taylor said.

“That conversation that they have will then inspire other conversations, and then we have this growing web of support that exists within our communities.”



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