Sydney: Freedom Day As Harbour City Reopens  


For more than four months, popular Sydney precincts like Barangaroo, Circular Quay, Martin Place and The Rocks have been virtual ghost towns with their empty restaurants and deserted shops.

Iconic sites across the city – including the Sydney Opera House, Taronga Zoo, Luna Park and even the Manly ferry – have been eerily quiet for 106 days due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

But early this morning, the first signs of life started returning to the Harbour City as strict stay-at-home orders were lifted and bars, restaurants, retail outlets and cinemas welcomed their first customers since the end of autumn.

Some bars and barber shops opened at 12:01 am local time, but only for patrons who had been doubled vaccinated.

Having surpassed the 70 per cent double-dose vaccination milestone last week, gyms, cafes, restaurants, pools, shops, hairdressers and beauticians are allowed to reopen from today and people will finally be allowed to venture more than five kilometres from their home.

Up to 5,000 people will be allowed at theme parks, racecourses, stadiums and other major recreation facilities, though they must adhere to the 4 square metre rule. Up to 500 people can attend ticketed and seated outdoor events.

Once Sydney’s vaccination rate hits 80 per cent in the next week or two, there will be even fewer restrictions with travellers allowed to drive and holiday anywhere within the state of New South Wales.

It’s now also likely Australia’s international borders could re-open for vaccinated travellers in NSW as early as November 1, with the current international arrival caps put in place to manage home quarantine to be scrapped.

While some pockets of the travel and tourism industry have fared well during the pandemic, supported by domestic travellers unable to head abroad, many have struggled enormously without overseas visitors.

Visitor numbers at most Sydney attractions have fallen up to 75 per cent because of border closures and travel restrictions.

BridgeClimb , which reopens on October 22, is hoping to lure people back onto the Harbour Bridge with a 35 per cent discount on some walks, and experiences such as a photography climb.

Scenic World in the Blue Mountains – home to the Scenic Railway and and Scenic Skyway – will also reopen on October 22.

While the attraction ordinarily is normally a magnet for international and interstate tourists, it will only be Sydneysiders visiting at first.

Sydney Zoo, near Blacktown 38 kms west of the Sydney CBD, reopens on Friday, while the not-for-profit Taronga Zoo on the shores of Sydney Harbour reopens on Monday.

Other Sydney tourism attractions are hoping people will take advantage of their Dine and Discover vouchers, including Sea Life Sydney Aquarium at Darling Harbour, where Gentoo penguin breeding season is in full swing, and Wild Life Sydney Zoo, where koala cubs will be out and about. 


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