LET'S take this moment to review the COVID rules and lockdown measures as they apply on the Mid North Coast.
Lockdown under stay-at-home orders on the Mid North Coast have been extended until midnight September 10.
From Monday, September 13, adults who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to gather outdoors in groups of five (including children) in their own local government area (LGA).
Because the Mid North Coast is not an "area of concern", there are no time restrictions on these outdoor gatherings, but all adults must be fully vaccinated.
They must also occur in public places (so they can't be in a person's back yard, for instance).
The gatherings must take place only in a person's LGA.
You will be within the rules if you must cross into another LGA, but only if you stay within 5km of your home.
Further freedoms are expected when vaccination rates hit 70 and 80 per cent.
Mid North Coast school students could return to face-to-face learning much sooner than their city counterparts.
If stay-at-home orders are lifted in an LGA or region before October 25, students living in those areas could return to classrooms under a range of COVID-safe measures.
The Mid North Coast will remain in an extended statewide lockdown under stay-at-home orders until September 10, when it will be reviewed.
A staggered plan for a return to school across NSW was revealed on August 27 by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the Minister for Education, Sarah Mitchell.
In a joint statement, the Premier outlined a range of measures for a return to school in a "COVID-safe way".
When stay-at-home rules are still in place, but other community vaccination and transmission conditions are met, students will return to school in a staged way, the Department of Education said.
The "staged plan" for affected schools aims for a return to face-to-face learning which will begin from October 25.
Unless stay at home orders are lifted in an LGA or region before October 25, students will return to face-to-face learning with NSW Health approved COVID-safe settings on school sites in the following order:
If stay at home orders are lifted in an LGA or region before October 25, all students living or learning in that area will return to face-to-face learning under the Department's COVID-safe schools framework.
If cases in certain LGAs increase significantly, learning from home will resume for that LGA until case numbers drop.
HSC exams will be delayed until November 9 with a revised timetable and guidelines for a COVID-safe HSC to be released by NESA in early September.
Vaccinations for all school staff across all sectors will be mandatory from November 8.
Exercise and outdoor recreation is a reasonable excuse to leave home on the Mid North Coast.
A NSW Health spokesperson explained the rules as follows:
"Exercise is an activity that requires some kind of physical activity that can help maintain or improve health, such as running or walking, whereas recreation includes leisure activities such as sitting for relaxation, or to eat, drink or read outdoors."
This means you can sit down at a park bench for a coffee or rest at the beach as long as you are socially distancing, wearing a mask and following gathering rules.
There are no time limits on exercise or outdoor recreation in our region.
If exercising or partaking in outdoor recreation, you can go anywhere within your LGA.
You can cross into another LGA for exercise or outdoor recreation but only if that allows you to stay within 5km of your home.
Gathering outdoors for exercise or outdoor recreation is limited to two people but if you live with more than two other people, you can all go out together for exercise.
You can exercise with one other person you do not live with or your nominated 'singles bubble' visitor.
Many people on social media are incorrectly inferring relationship status to the NSW Government's usage of the word 'single' in singles bubble.
In reality, the singles bubble rules give special consideration to those who live alone - regardless of their relationship status.
On the Mid North Coast, those who live with no other adult can nominate a visitor to their home to socialise with, but that person must be from the same LGA as well.
In regional NSW, registration of your nominated visitor is not required.
You can nominate a visitor if you live only with children under 18 years of age and the visitor may bring their dependent children if no other care arrangements can be made.
Carpooling to get to a place of recreation or exercise is not allowed unless you are sharing the car with people from your household or with your nominated 'singles bubble' visitor.
You are not permitted to share a car with someone outside of your household unless it is for an emergency, a compassionate reason, to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person or if the car is being used as a taxi or rideshare.
Fitted mask wearing outside is mandatory across the State, except when exercising. You must carry a face mask and identification with you at all times.
You are required to wear a mask:
You are not required to wear a mask:
Early childhood education and care services continue to operate in regional NSW so if you have more questions pertaining to this, contact your childcare centre to ask about any changes to their operations.
While visiting another person is generally not a reasonable excuse to leave your home, childcare is classed as an exemption. However, only one person is allowed to visit for childcare.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian pleaded to parents to keep children at home where possible.
"We are also encouraging that unless you have to, please do not send your children to childcare or early childhood (learning centres)," Ms Berejiklian said.
You may drop your kids off at the carer's residence or the carer may come to your residence (so long as only one person comes).
You can visit another LGA to pick up or drop off your child from childcare even if it is more than 5km from home.
Following public outcry, a person who normally lives in a Sydney LGA can no longer move to their second home on the Mid North Coast.
Travel between residences, except for essential maintenance, is banned. Only one person is permitted to travel if essential maintenance is required.
Under the NSW Public Health Orders, it is a reasonable excuse to leave your home to visit your partner.
The exemption applies to two people who are in a relationship but do not necessarily live together and falls under compassionate reasons.
It is important to remember you may have to prove your reason for your journey if you are stopped by police.
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