"The three-stage NSW Roadmap to Recovery plan announced today by the Premier offers welcome certainty to business by locking in Monday 11 October as the key date for stage 1 of the reopening plan," Helen Waldron, NSW Head to the peak employer association Ai Group said today.

“NSW businesses now know with greater clarity what restrictions will apply at the 70% then 80% double vaccination rates, and from 1 December 2021, and this will help greatly with forward planning.

"For businesses that have been closed since Greater Sydney was locked down on 26 June the certain reopening date will mean they can start re-engaging staff and restocking to be ready to open their doors on 11 October.

"The Government also provided details of the rules that will apply at 80% which will differentiate, across the whole of NSW, between those that are fully vaccinated and those that are not.

"However, the swings and roundabouts of today's announcement have seen the welcome news accompanied by new restrictions that will apply in Regional NSW from 80% double dose to 1 December, where only fully vaccinated people will be permitted in hospitality and non-critical retail that are currently able to open to all.

"Also of concern is the extension of regional travel bans. Travel to the regions will now not be allowed until the 80% vaccination rate is reached rather than the proposed 70% rate. This decision delays a much-needed economic boost to the regions as well as keeping families and friends apart for longer.

"For businesses, two critical issues remain unclear. Employers need to know what will happen if they have a positive case in their workplace once we’re at the higher vaccination levels and also what compliance regime they will be required to face when determining access only for the fully vaccinated. Both are still being worked through, which is disappointing, as in the meantime, businesses and the community are left wondering.

"Employers, employees and the community at large will be heartened by the freedoms that will be allowed from reaching stage 3 of the plan on Dec 1st. This includes changes to density requirements down to one person per 2sq m for retail, entertainment, education and personal services like hairdressing and working from home at the employer’s discretion plus no limit on family gatherings at home or informal outdoor gatherings.

"Ai Group looks forward to further consultation prior to the release of public health orders, which are needed as soon as possible to help businesses fine tune their reopening plans," Ms Waldron said.

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