Sydneysiders have been left furious after the announcement that travel to regional NSW will be postponed until November 1.
Deputy Prime Minister Paul Toole sparked public outcry on Friday after revealing that intra-state travel won’t start again for two weeks.
Low vaccination rates in rural towns are responsible for the decision, marking the third time regional travel has been postponed.
2GB host Ray Hadley led the resistance, accusing the state government of “lying” to the public by constantly changing the date.
“This is one of the most shameful decisions by this government, they have told lies,” he said.
Sydneysiders have been left furious after announcing that travel to regional NSW will be postponed until November 1
Low vaccination rates in rural towns are responsible for the decision and it is the third time regional travel has been postponed (photo, health workers in Wilcannia)
“I’ve tried to get through this with reason… but this is going a step too far for the NSW government.
“If you lie to the electorate, and I am guilty of forwarding those lies to my listeners, I get even angrier.”
NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham took to Twitter to condemn the decision.
“The NSW government told everyone to get vaccinated, but now the double dosed vaxxs are being told they cannot travel to regional NSW, although they had previously been promised (at 70 per cent),” he wrote.
Completely illogical and a blow to NSW tourism and employment. And for many, cancel family reunions.
Former Nine News reporter Chris Urquhart expressed his frustration on social media.
Devastated for doubly vaccinated people in cities and the bush who were promised reunions with families in regional areas if they did the right thing.
“It’s embarrassing that it’s October and not every Australian has had the chance to get vaccinated, wherever they live.
“The failed roll-out and public demonization of the life-saving AZ vaccine has led to unnecessary illness, death, grief, suffering, isolation and poverty.”
Outraged residents have also expressed their anger online, labeling the decision to postpone travel as “absolutely pathetic.”
“First they said 70 per cent would be traveled between regional and greater Sydney, then they said 80 per cent and now they are moving it back every day for a week,” one wrote.
‘People who have not yet been vaccinated will probably not be vaccinated.’
Another person wrote: ‘I’m absolutely devastated by this, I understand why it happened, but I’m so tired of the constant changes.
“The Prime Minister dangled regional trips in front of us without thinking about what it would do if they had to forsake. And anyone with half a brain knew that.’
Regional travel from Sydney has been delayed for the third time, sparking community outrage
NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham took to Twitter on Friday to condemn the decision
It was initially expected that regional travel would begin again when the state reached the 70 percent vaccination milestone.
The state government then announced it would be delayed until NSW met the 80 percent vaccination target – which is expected to be met by next Monday.
Mr Toole said the decision to postpone intra-state travel for the third time was not taken lightly.
‘I know it’s not an easy decision,’ said Mr Toole. “We have a responsibility here to make sure we keep our regional community safe.”
“It’s important that we don’t really open businesses, and then we start to see the number of cases start to escalate.”
The deputy prime minister said he could not allow the state to reopen too soon and risk an increase in Covid-19 cases in regional cities with low vaccination rates.
“I have some communities that only have 47 percent,” said Mr. Toole. “I have some areas that are just in their fifties.”
NSW Deputy Prime Minister Paul Toole has announced intra-state travel won’t restart for another two weeks due to low vaccination coverage in regional NSW
“We need to make sure that we increase that vaccination coverage in regional communities. We want to welcome people with open arms again.’
Radio host Ben Fordham accused the deputy prime minister of “tricked” thousands of residents who had made plans to vacation or reunite with loved ones in the area.
‘We need to make sure we strike the right balance between opening up and protecting people’s lives,’ replied Mr Toole.
Fordham blamed slow vaccination rates in regional NSW in part on the state government’s decision to divert jabs to Greater Sydney.
“People have rolled up their sleeves and done the right thing and now you’ve betrayed them,” Fordham said.
“I don’t know how many broken promises there are in regional travel. I can’t keep up.’
Mr Toole’s announcement comes after the decision to postpone travel within the state was taken at a NSW cabinet meeting on Thursday
There is speculation that regional travel won’t start again until October 25. Pictured: Huskisson on the south coast of NSW
The decision to postpone travel within the state was made at a NSW cabinet meeting on Thursday.
Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet warned earlier this week that intra-state travel could be cut amid concerns that opening up could endanger residents in areas with lower vaccination coverage.
“It came about because of the massive increase in vaccination rates and that’s a good thing,” he said.
“We want to open as quickly and safely as possible. That’s exactly what we do.’
Mr Perrottet said authorities expect the number of Covid viruses in the state to rise once travel restrictions are lifted.
“We certainly believe, based on the advice we have received from (NSW) Health, that there will of course be an increase in the number of cases, in hospitalizations, as mobility increases in the state,” he said previously.
At the forefront of the concern are popular travel destinations such as Byron Bay and the Hunter Valley vineyards where jab rates are lagging.
Sydneysiders looking for a getaway will have to wait a little longer as regional travel is delayed (Photo: Surfers in Byron Bay)
While NSW has reached 75 percent coverage, the Byron Shire in northern NSW is only 47 percent.
In the town of Cessnock – the gateway to the beautiful Hunter Valley wine country – only 58.4 percent of residents 16 and older are fully vaccinated.
Coffs Harbor and Kempsey on the North and Mid-North coasts also have 58 percent coverage, while Inverell in the Northern Tablelands and Junee in the Riverina have only 57 percent coverage.
The announcement comes as NSW registered 406 new locally acquired cases of Covid on Thursday, down from 444 the day before.
Six more deaths were also reported and 711 people are now hospitalized with COVID, with 143 people in ICU.
More than 91 percent of the eligible population has had their first vaccination and 76.5 percent are now fully vaccinated.
It looks like the state will hit its 80 percent double Covid-19 vaccination milestone by the weekend, which would be earlier than expected.