Shire Matters with Mark Speakman: Reopening NSW roadmap offers light at the end of the tunnel

Cronulla MP Mark Speakman receiving his second AstraZeneca shot at St George Hospital last month.
Cronulla MP Mark Speakman receiving his second AstraZeneca shot at St George Hospital last month.

Life at 70 per cent and 80 per cent double-dose vaccination will be a lot different than it is now. Every day, we're inching closer to those important targets and to a more normal way of life.

Under the Reopening NSW roadmap announced last week, many restrictions to gathering, movement, retail and hospitality will be eased for fully vaccinated people (as well as those

with medical exemptions) when our state hits 70 per cent adult coverage.

It means we'll be able to gather with our families and friends. We'll be able to dine out or enjoy a beer at the pub. We'll be able to exercise at gyms, get a haircut, attend church services, enjoy a bit of retail therapy, or take a weekend trip away. There's light at the end of the tunnel.

If you haven't received your first vaccine dose, I strongly encourage you to book an appointment as soon as you can. This is largely a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

Vaccination protects you from severe disease, hospitalisation and death; the vast majority of deaths and ICU admissions in the current outbreak have been unvaccinated. Vaccination also protects the people around you by limiting the possibility for onward virus transmission.

For the time being, to open up for unvaccinated people would overwhelm our health system and produce many thousands of deaths. This point is underscored by recent modelling by the Burnet Institute, which shows that the current lockdown measures in New South Wales, combined with targeted vaccination, may have prevented more than 580,000 cases and 5,800 deaths.

The roadmap is subject to further fine-tuning and to health advice if circumstances change drastically or if cases within a designated area remain too high. But clearly, the higher our vaccination rates, the stronger our collective armour as we adjust to living with COVID.

It's no surprise that Sutherland Shire residents have been rolling up their sleeves and doing their share of heavy lifting. Ours is the third most vaccinated statistical area in NSW. Let's keep getting those rates as high as we possibly can, so we can get back to doing all the things we love.

In the meantime, please look out for each other and stay safe.