Deputy Premier John Barilaro has confirmed that any unvaccinated residents of regions set to emerge from lockdown this Saturday will lose their freedoms once the state hits its vaccination milestone of 70 per cent.
Low-risk regional LGAs, including all areas of the Riverina, will be released from lockdown from Saturday with strict restrictions still in place.
Freedoms enjoyed by low risk regions from Saturday mirror those that will apply to the fully vaccinated state-wide once a double vaccination rate of 70 per cent is hit, a date expected to fall in mid-October.
In other news
At a regional press conference on Thursday, Mr Barilaro confirmed once the 70 per cent milestone is hit, residents in low-risk regions who are not vaccinated will lose the freedoms they gain this weekend.
"They will lose freedoms," Mr Barilaro said. "The message is clear, because you get some freedoms today you could lose them if you're not vaccinated. That is something I know is harsh, but it's the reality we live in.
"We will never beat Covid until we get to 70, 80, 90 per cent vaccination."
New data from the federal government shows that as of Sunday, 40.1 per cent of people over 15 in the Riverina are fully vaccinated and 65.9 per cent have one dose.
He also warned the relaxing of restrictions is "fragile" and any positive case of COVID-19 will result in an immediate 14 day lockdown.
He confirmed that all regional LGAs will be reexamined every week with low risk LGAs to be enabled to open or stay open provided no case has been recorded in the two-week period.
Sewage detection and exposure sites will be used as criteria to measure the risk of an area, but will not have the same snap lockdown effect as an active Covid case, Mr Barilaro confirmed.
Balranald, which last week had a positive case of COVID-19 attributed to the area, will come out of lockdown alongside the rest of the Riverina from Saturday.
The Deputy Premier said the case has not been linked to community transmission and may have been attributed to the area simply because of a residential address attached to the person who tested positive.
It was also confirmed that in the Riverina from Saturday, nursing home and care facilities will see restrictions relaxed, with two people able to visit under the new rules.
With several exposure scares linked to essential workers travelling through the region in recent weeks, some leaders have expressed concern about reopening the region and potentially exposing communities to the virus.
Mr Barilaro confirmed that essential workers passing though the region such as truck drivers are not subject to the relaxed rules and must abide by stay at home orders in place in their own LGA.
"Authorised workers travelling through are mostly coming out of a lockdown area and still have a level of restrictions on them," Mr Barilaro said. "The idea they can come to a [low risk] area and go have a beer at the local pub is not permissible.
"Is it possible? Yes of course, [but] you rely on people to do the right thing and trust them to do the right thing."
He encouraged communities to stay vigilant and report anyone they think is doing the wrong thing.
"People need to be vigilant, I know in regional communities if you're a stranger in town and they don't think you should be at the pub they'd be the first to take a photo and dob you in," he said.
He added the state government they seek higher police presence and vigilance when it comes to workers in transit through the region.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: