THE battle between prioritising business or safety has sparked up again, with split opinions over whether double vaccinated people should be able to travel to regional communities from mid-October.
From the Monday after the state reaches its 70 per cent fully vaccinated target, they will be able - and even encouraged to - move throughout the state to spend their dollars.
This news has been welcomed by the business community, which was near crippled by weeks of lockdown and months of restrictions that are still ongoing.
Business NSW regional manager Joe Townsend said it will be quite the shot in the arm for local outlets to have the double-jabbed tourists return to the regions.
"For those in the whole visitor economy, they're really excited because this is the light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully will prevent any further lockdowns that we've seen previously," he said.
"And provide that confidence that we'll have some stable, ongoing trading conditions."
While regions such as the north coast - and in particular tourism hotspot and celebrity haven Byron Bay - are expected to receive most of the attention, Mr Townsend said the north west is likely to also see increased traffic.
He expects that will even happen to a lesser extent over the coming month, as people from non-lockdown communities begin to travel on short holidays, or to see family and friends.
While this certainly sounds enticing to local restaurants, pubs, shops and cafes, there has some been push back to the idea.
The NSW Rural Doctors' Association of Australia (RDANSW) has argued that while the state will be 70 per cent double vaccinated, many rural communities will not, as their current jab rates lag behind.
Regions such as Duri and Boggabri, for example, only had a first dose rate of between 50 and 59 per cent as of September 9.
The association has said that, given double vaccinated people can still contract COVID-19, it could be irresponsible to allow them into communities that still have many vulnerable residents.
"Our rural doctors remain nervous about the impacts of COVID reaching their communities because, despite what the premier promises, the surge workforce simply is not there to support outbreaks in multiple communities at the same time," RDANSW president Dr Charles Evill said.
"With the weeks between vaccines, and a further 7 to 14 days for full efficacy to be reached after receiving the final dose, it is very unlikely that rural LGAs with rates lower than 60 per cent for their first dose now, can reach 70 per cent fully covered by that date.
"We need the NSW Government to commit to making sure rural and remote are fully protected, with vaccines available for all eligible people, before re-allowing travel between regions."
Tamworth Regional Council mayor Col Murray has an equal interest in both sides of the coin and believes a balance must be struck.
Ultimately he said while precautions must be put in place, businesses cannot wait any longer than necessary to reopen to customers from throughout the state.
"Every business in our region - including council - wants to again see visitors in Tamworth but only in a COVID-safe way," he said.
"The economic benefit visitors bring is much needed for all local business, however no one wants to put the wellbeing our loved ones at risk.
"Allowing travel to regional NSW for double vaccinated people only is one of the ways to minimise that risk."
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