January 30 - February 5, 2022: Issue 524


COVID-19 settings remain in place until february 28th to maintain community safety + COVID Plan For Start Of 2022 School Year

The NSW Government will extend current restrictions for another month as the State continues to take a measured response to managing COVID-19 with a focus on a safe return to school and restarting non-urgent elective surgery as soon as possible.

Current settings will continue from Thursday, 27 January 2022 until Monday, 28 February 2022, including:

  • Hospitality venues, including pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes, and nightclubs must follow the one person per two square metre rule indoors;
  • Masks are required in all indoor settings (except residences). Masks are strongly encouraged where you cannot maintain a safe distance from others;
  • QR code check-ins are compulsory at certain premises, including hospitality venues and retail shops;
  • Singing and dancing is not permitted in hospitality venues, entertainment facilities, nightclubs, indoor music festivals and indoor major recreation facilities (except for weddings, performers, instructors and students). 

Premier Dominic Perrottet said rolling over these measures would continue to protect the community and our health system. 

“We have always said we will respond to what is in front of us and tailor our approach as required and that is exactly what we are doing,” Mr Perrottet said.

“We are transitioning to living with COVID and we will need to continually update our approach to ensure we are keeping people safe and protecting our health system. 

“It is vital people continue to come forward and get their booster shots to help keep themselves, their family and the community safe.”

As additional measures, people are encouraged to continue to work from home where possible and to reduce mingling when eating and drinking.

Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said there is plenty of availability and supply of boosters in the NSW Health vaccination clinics so those eligible for their booster shot should book as soon as possible.

“The gap between your second jab and your booster is now just three months, so don’t waste time – the sooner we all get our boosters the sooner we will overcome this Omicron wave,” Mr Hazzard said.

“The NSW community has put in an extraordinary effort to get the first two doses of the COVID vaccine, making us one of the most vaccinated populations worldwide. It’s now extremely important to back it in with your booster to lift your protection against the highly transmissible Omicron strain.”

People aged 18 years and older can receive their booster dose at three months after receiving their second dose of any of the COVID-19 vaccines.

COVID plan for start of 2022 school year

Students will return to school under settings that the NSW State Government states will minimise the risk of the virus and allow teachers and pupils to return safely to the classroom.

As part of the new measures, every student and teacher in NSW government and non-government schools will be able to receive rapid antigen test (RAT) kits before school returns.

The COVID Plan to keep schools open and students safe includes:

  • Twice a week surveillance testing for primary and high school students, school staff and early childhood staff. Surveillance testing will be undertaken for the first four weeks of term, with two weeks of supply distributed before term starts
  • Mandatory mask wearing for all staff and high school students, with masks encouraged for children in primary schools
  • Limiting interaction between year groups
  • Limiting visitors to those providing essential curriculum and wellbeing support
  • COVID-safe settings in place for music, sport and excursions
  • Maximising natural and mechanical ventilation, with air purifiers dispatched to where they are needed
  • Contingency plans in place to manage any disruptions to the workforce.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said supporting students to return safely to the classroom is vital after two years of disruption to their education.

“Students learn best at school, some students have spent a quarter of their schooling at home. We’re committed to bringing students back safely,” Mr Perrottet said.

“New COVID-smart measures will help make this happen, including surveillance testing both students and staff twice weekly with RATs.

“What is most important about this approach is that it allows students to enjoy all aspects of their schooling in a safe and sensible way.

“The government is distributing more than 12 million RATs to over 3150 government, non-government schools and early childhood centres to assist with surveillance testing of staff and students.”

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said testing complements other COVID smart measures in schools, including mandatory vaccination for staff, increased vaccination coverage for students , mask-wearing, cleaning, cohorting and limited visitors on-site.

“We have worked closely with the Victorian Government to create plans that achieve the same important goals of seeing our students learning in their classrooms safely and with minimal disruption,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Activities students love, such as music, school sport and assemblies, will continue with settings in place similar to late last year.”

A number of staffing contingencies are in place including utilising retired and studying teachers.

The Association of Independent Schools of New South Wales Dr Geoff Newcombe AM said all three school sectors worked closely together to develop the back to school arrangements.

“School communities should feel confident about returning for Term 1 under these arrangements, which allow a wide range of activities to proceed with appropriate risk-assessment and planning,” Dr Newcombe said.

Catholic Schools NSW Chief Executive Officer Dallas McInerney said it is imperative that we have schools that are safe and that remain open.

“We need to keep our students, teachers and families safe and also provide stability. We know that our kids learn best when they’re in the classroom with their teacher and peers,” Mr McInerney said.

Families will be notified by their schools on how and when to collect the RAT kits for their children.

In the 12 to 15-year-old age group, more than 80 per cent of children have had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 78 per cent are double-dosed. In the 5 to 11-year-old age group, more than 30 per cent of children have had their first dose.

More information on the return to school settings for NSW public schools is available at education.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/advice-for-families