NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian mask
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

A strange dynamic has emerged as power is transferred away from Canberra and to state and territory leaders amid the pandemic. The idea of a national approach to COVID-19 rules has largely been shattered as leaders, emboldened with new emergency powers and popularity among their constituents, implement rules and restrictions even if it goes against national advice. 

NSW has started setting its own goalposts, with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian openly discussing a strategy of living with the virus, flagging potential freedoms for fully vaccinated residents, such as being allowed to visit pubs and bars, in regions with high vaccination rates and low case numbers.

This is the first clear pathway to freedom Australians have had. While the federal government’s vague four-stage plan flags eased restrictions when 70% of the adult population is vaccinated, it doesn’t provide further details.