While Dominic Perrottet's decision to open up NSW significantly more quickly than under the roadmap signed off on by his predecessor was not unexpected, it is a serious cause for concern for ACT residents.
Canberra is highly susceptible to any developments across the border. When Delta first came to the territory almost nine weeks ago, it almost certainly travelled down the Federal Highway.
It is understood that, in the weeks since then, additional local outbreaks have been sparked by the arrival of infected visitors from the so-called "first state".
The significant reduction in NSW case numbers in recent weeks came about as a result of a two-pronged approach to fighting the Delta strain under Gladys Berejiklian. The first was the imposition of strict lockdown conditions. The second was a very impressive immunisation campaign, which resulted in 70 per cent of the population being double-vaccinated earlier this week.
There have always been fears, even under the original Berejiklian roadmap, of a significant spike in case numbers once restrictions were eased. Ms Berejiklian herself spoke of a likely "explosion" in case numbers and talked of the possibility hospitals could be overwhelmed.
Given this, residents of both the ACT and NSW have every right to be sceptical about what motivated Mr Perrottet's decision to double the number of people who can gather in a home from five to 10, to double the number of people who can gather for weddings and funerals, to reopen indoor pools, and to bring all schools back a week early.
They are also right to be sceptical about Mr Perrottet's claim, given his long-standing desire as Treasurer to open the economy up sooner rather than later, that these changes are based on the medical advice.
The downward trend in case numbers and the progress on vaccinations has been evident for quite some time. What changed between last Friday and Wednesday night?
The absence of NSW's highly respected chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, from Thursday's press conference, and the fact that long-suffering Health Minister Brad Hazzard was only supposed to take questions, is significant. While Dr Chant subsequently said "it's an exciting time, but I caution everyone to do everything safely," that was hardly a ringing endorsement.
Equally notable was the rebranding of the "crisis cabinet" as the COVID Economic Recovery Committee. And all this comes on top of the decision to abandon daily press conferences altogether.
At a time when it is not inconceivable NSW case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths could soon be soaring skywards, public access to information about what is going in the country's most populous state will be more restricted than at any time during the pandemic.
To say, as Mr Perrottet has done, that "we can't let perfection be the enemy of the good" isn't good enough. Australians don't have the appetite for collateral damage during the opening-up process that exists in the UK and the USA, which suffered much more grievously during the pandemic.
Could this come back to bite him as an unfortunate iteration of Francois de Charette's famous dictum that "you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs"?
Australians are clearly sick of lockdowns, and many will be excited about the chance to enjoy a meal out or a beer at a pub. But it would be wise for our political leaders, eager to see the back of a very trying period, to temper their language and continue to encourage caution.
The last thing we need is a serious setback after all the hard work and suffering by so many people.
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