Businesses in New South Wales have welcomed the state government's roadmap out of COVID-19 lockdown, saying now is the time to learn to live with the virus.
As part of the roadmap, once NSW reaches a mark of 70 per cent fully vaccinated, residents who have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to attend gyms, go to pubs and restaurants and shop in non-critical retail stores.
Business NSW Chief Executive Daniel Hunter said business leaders have been asking for a concrete plan.
"This roadmap is what the business community has been crying out for and I thank the NSW Government for providing the path forward," Mr Hunter said.
"Businesses can start planning their re-opening right now, they can order stock, engage staff and re-engage with their loyal customers. It's been incredibly difficult for businesses during this Delta outbreak because the bills have kept coming in, without any revenue."
NSW is anticipated to reach a 70 per cent vaccination rate in mid-October, giving businesses approximately five weeks to ensure their employees are vaccinated and stock is ready for sale.
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John Whelan, CEO of the Australian Hotels Association in NSW, urged all potential patrons to book their vaccinations now.
"This is great news for pubs, our staff and our patrons," Mr Whelan said.
"We've all had enough of existing like this. Let's get vaccinated and get our lives back.
"We can't wait to get back to work and to open in a safe, fully vaccinated environment – and we want you to be ready to join us for a meal with family and friends or a drink with mates – all those things we have been missing."
Despite the proposed easing of restrictions, not all business sectors are happy with the roadmap.
The Property Council of Australia welcomes the plan to return to pre-COVID life, but warns that more is needed to revitalise the CBD of Australia's biggest city.
"The setting of clearer timelines and targets for greater freedoms including when businesses will reopen is welcomed," NSW Property Council Executive Director Achterstraat said.
"However, further details will need to be determined including policy settings that prioritise economic recovery.
"We look forward to working with Government on advancing plans for the reactivation of our CBD and the re-opening of construction worksites. CBDs cannot be reactivated until workers are going back to offices to breathe life into our cities."
Under the roadmap, employers have been asked to keep their employees working at home if possible – even after the vaccination rate hits 70 per cent.
Mr Achterstraat says more needs to be done to entice office workers back into the CBD, and a clearer path for construction sites also needs to be tabled.
"Similarly, the construction industry needs to be given a clear plan for a full reopening after the industry has blazed a trail for sector-based vaccine uptake," Mr Achterstraat said.
"With worksite capacity capped at 50 per cent the ability for NSW to create jobs and homes currently has a handbrake applied to it.
"With much of the economic recovery from last year's lockdown being underwritten by the property industry, it is critical that the industry is provided the right policy setting to underwrite the recovery as part of the roadmap announced today."