HE'S only been in the job a little over a week and already Premier Dominic Perrottet is facing the second test of his determination to make NSW lockdown-free.
Mr Perrottet had barely got his feet under the desk last week when the state hit the 70 per cent double-dosed vaccination rate that triggered the first easing of restrictions.
The plan had always been to ease restrictions on the Monday after we hit that mark but Mr Perrottet's arrival prompted speculation he might pull the trigger even sooner, allowing pubs and retail to stores to reopen for the weekend. We'll never know how much consideration he gave the idea but, in the end, it didn't happen and we celebrated "Freedom Day" on Monday, as expected.
With the vaccination rate continuing to race ahead, though, Mr Perrottet - who has always advocated avoiding long, economy-crippling lockdowns wherever possible - looks set to be given another chance to flex his muscles in this area.
It was originally thought the next easing of restrictions, to come after NSW hit 80 per cent double-dosed, would come into effect on Monday, October 25.
That was the date it was thought Sydneysiders would finally be able to enter regional NSW, bringing with them a much greater risk of spreading the virus further throughout the state.
But latest estimates now suggest we could hit the 80 per cent mark as early as Sunday, meaning the premier could flick the switch on the next easing of restrictions as early as Monday, October 18.
Such a move would win him plenty of support in Sydney, where many residents have gone nearly four months without be able to visit family and friends in the bush.
But it might not be as popular in regional centres, which have the most to lose here.
Regardless of when we officially hit 80 per cent, it would be far better for Mr Perrottet to stick to the original plan of October 25 for the next easing of restrictions.
Double-dosed vaccination rates in many regional centres (including Bathurst) still sit below the magical 80 per cent mark and our hospitals would quickly become overwhelmed in the event of an outbreak.
One more week would allow one more week for residents to get their second dose and bring us all to a much more level playing field.
We understand it's been a long wait for Sydneysiders but one more week will likely do more good than harm.
What do you think?
- Why not write us a letter to the editor ...