NSW 'vax passport' trials set for October

NSW’s vaccination passport may not be fully operational in time for the easing of restrictions in mid-October, the government says.

© Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS Victor Dominello says the NSW vaccination passport won’t be ready when restrictions ease.

But the restrictions will be eased at 70 per cent double-dose coverage regardless, and residents will be obliged to demonstrate their vaccination status through other means.

NSW reported 1035 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and five deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday.

Of those five deaths, two people were in their 50s, one was in their 60s, one was in their 70s and one was in their 80s.

It takes the toll for the current NSW outbreak to 260.

The government has also announced it will from October 6 conduct a two-week pilot for its “vaccination passport”, which will be linked to the Service NSW check-in app, in regional NSW.

But 70 per cent double-dose vaccination coverage is likely to trigger the end of lockdown for fully jabbed residents around October 11.

Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said the government would not postpone the easing of restrictions and residents could instead use the Medicare app for proof of vaccination.

They could also print out their vaccination certificate.

Once 70 per cent double-dose coverage is reached, fully vaccinated NSW residents can again visit the homes of others and attend hospitality venues, retail outlets, gyms and sport matches.

“It’s a good problem to have,” Mr Dominello told reporters.

“But right now there are other options for showing vax status.”

Mr Dominello said the inclusion of vaccination status in the Service NSW app would create an “all-in-one” platform for residents and make compliance checks easier for businesses.

It may also facilitate interstate travel in the months ahead.

The trial from October 6 will incorporate multiple regional council areas and include clubs and aged care facilities, Mr Dominello said.

Residents will need to provide consent for their vaccination data, currently held by federal authorities, to appear on the app.

Mr Dominello reiterated faking vaccination certificates would constitute a “serious criminal offence” and may involve jail time.

Restrictions on the unvaccinated will not ease at this point.

There are currently 1232 COVID-19 patients in hospital in NSW, with 242 in intensive care units and 122 on ventilators.

Meanwhile, a Liberal upper house MP says the NSW government failed to adequately protect the regions from the spread of COVID-19 after the Byron Shire, Tweed and Kempsey council areas in the state’s north were forced into lockdown on Tuesday.

The seven-day lockdown was mandated after a coronavirus-infected authorised worker with a valid permit flew from Sydney to Ballina on Saturday and was active in the community.

That person has now been charged with COVID breaches.

The lockdown prompted the Queensland government to exclude Tweed and Byron Shire residents from the border bubble.

The fully vaccinated and authorised worker was working for the company filming the TV series “I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!”, which MP Catherine Cusack says was an unnecessary risk.

Vaccination in the Tweed is below the state average with 71.7 per cent of people getting a first dose and 45 per cent fully jabbed. 

Elsewhere, the NSW construction industry will return to full capacity from next week as the state’s vaccination coverage continues to grow, with hope community sport will soon follow.

From Monday, NSW will ease all capacity limits on construction sites while retaining the four-square metre density rule.

The industry has been working at 50 per cent capacity, with vaccination requirements for workers from the 12 western and southwest Sydney local government areas of concern.

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