Sydney celebrates as NSW COVID lockdown lifts

Bars, restaurants, shops, gyms and even a hairdresser have thrown their doors open across Greater Sydney after more than 100 days in lockdown.

Vaccinated residents in the capital and some other parts of the state will be returning to their favourite cafes and restaurants in their droves today for the first time in months.

Hair and beauty salon workers are expecting to be run off their feet as people try to look their best for a social circle suddenly widened beyond Zoom calls and small picnics.

Toongabbie Sports Club CEO Andrew Lauridsen celebrates the end of lockdown in Sydney. (9News)

Gyms are bracing for a rush of people seeking to make up for a few lockdown indulgences and non-essential businesses of all varieties are keen to welcome customers back to shops.

Most of the big changes to life in Sydney won’t be apparent until the sun rises on so-called “Freedom Day” but some weren’t wasting any time.

Hairdresser Alan Buki told Today he was accepting his first client in months at 12.01am tonight – and is booked out all through until 9pm tomorrow.

“After nearly four months, the salon is finally opening,” he said.

“The shop is out of control and the energy is infectious.”

Midnight is a touch on the late side to try for a dinner reservation but all-night classics such as Maisys 24 Hour Eatery in Neutral Bay is good to go.

Allan Buki and his partner Tiffany Thurtell at their Paddington Salon, which is opening at 12.01am on the 11th. 09 October, 2021. Photo: Brook Mitchell (Brook Mitchell)

And for revellers that don’t have to worry about work in the morning, bars and pubs across the city have been happy to pour pints and mix cocktails again after so long. 

The Toongabbie Sports Club in the city’s west threw open its doors at midnight in a move CEO Andrew Lauridsen said was about getting the community to connect again.

“It’s a celebration, it’s a welcome back, it’s a come and have a beer with your mates,” he told 9News.

“And I think that mateship, that Aussie mateship’s really been missing in those times and it’s going to be so pleasing to see it back.”

The Toongabbie Sports Club is ready for Sydney to leave lockdown. (9News)

It’s good news too, for shoppers desperate for a bit of browsing rather than just click and collect, as Kmart welcomes back customers.

Amid all the excitement many questions remain over what comes next.

It’s unclear exactly what effect reopening, even with more than 70 per cent of those aged 16 and over double-vaccinated, will have on the virus’s spread.

And some businesses have expressed concern over how they’ll be able to keep unvaccinated would-be patrons away in an aggravated situation.

Premier Dominic Perrottet urged his constituents to treat each other with kindness and respect, acknowledging the “challenges” that awaited in coming days.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard warned people should continue to be cautious.

“We are still in the middle of a pandemic,” Mr Hazzard said.

“Enjoy what we’ve all worked very, very hard for, but just be careful.”

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