NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has finally set the state free with a wholesale lifting of restrictions across the hospitality and events sector, paving the way for the performing arts community to get back to work.
The changes, which will see outdoor venues able to accept 100 per cent capacity and indoor venues up to 75 per cent, come as NSW continues to record zero cases of community transmissions.
The current rule of one person per four square metres for indoor venues will be eased to one per two square metres. Venue caps also will be removed on events such as weddings and funerals. The only exceptions at this stage are gyms and nightclubs which must adhere to the four-square-metre restrictions.
The changes will come into effect from Monday, 7 December.
"We are grateful to the people in NSW for their patience and understanding over what has been an incredibly difficult year," Berejiklian says.
"The rolling back of restrictions across the state is only possible because of the excellent work of the community who have followed social distancing guidelines and continued to come forward for testing."
The new rules to apply in NSW from next week are:
Venues including hospitality venues, retail and places of worship:
- one person per two square metres (with 25 people permitted before the rule applies), except for gyms and nightclubs (one person per four square metres with a maximum of 50 people allowed in gym classes or on the dance floor at nightclubs).
Stadiums and theatres:
- outdoors: 100 per cent seated capacity, and one person per two square metres for unstructured seating areas
- indoors: 75 per cent seated capacity.
Gatherings in outdoor public spaces:
- up to 100 people for outdoor gatherings (up from 50)
- up to 5,000 people for outdoor events that are fenced, ticketed and seated (subject to the two-square-metre rule)
- up to 3,000 people for other organised outdoor events, such as community sport and outdoor protests (subject to the two-square-metre rule).
- up to 50 people indoors.
- up to 50 performers indoors, no maximum cap outdoors
- advice is for the congregation or audience to continue wearing masks if singing.
Under the changes, maximum capacity caps will be removed subject to the two-square-metre rule for:
- bookings at hospitality venues
- regional agricultural shows
- corporate events
- religious services.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro says the people of NSW have worked hard to keep COVID-19 under control and deserved this major easing of restrictions.
"Today is a great day for the people of NSW and great timing with Christmas fast approaching, as we will soon see larger crowds at venues and events and the expansion of the two-square-metre rule statewide," he says.
Under the changes, most venues will be able to double their capacity, which will have an immediate and substantial impact on the economy.
"This change will make a big difference to many businesses and will provide a real boost for jobs particularly in the service industry which has been hit hard over the past nine months," says Treasurer Dominic Perrottet.
NSW warns that despite the easing of restrictions, the public needs to remain COVID-safe, urging anyone to get tested and avoid going to work if they have the slightest symptoms, and to continue maintain social distancing.
"It is critical that people continue to come forward for testing and practice COVID-safe behaviour when out and about and catching up with family and friends," says NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant.
Updated at 3.26pm AEDT on 2 December 2020.
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