NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced a series of restrictions will be relaxed on Friday in Greater Sydney, Wollongong, the Central Coast and the Blue Mountains, with a message for businesses to prepare for a 2 square metre rule setting in two weeks' time.
Private gathering limits will be lifted to 30 indoors and 50 outdoors, and up to 300 guests will be allowed at weddings and funerals if the 4 square metre rule is observed.
Masks will no longer be mandatory in most settings, although the Premier explained they would still be required on public transport, for hospitality workers facing the public, in places of worship, gaming rooms and beauty salons.
"In relation to retail and in relation to the public, we recommend a mask when you can't guarantee social distancing," the Premier said.
"But it will not be compulsory if you're going retail shopping or if you're a retail worker, or obviously if you're attending a hospitality venue."
She said there was a high likelihood of a further relaxation of restrictions if the state continues on its current course, although the state's Health Minister Brad Hazzard lamented that not enough people were coming forward to get tested.
"If we continue to see zero to low case numbers and reasonable rates of testing, then all of the settings that we've currently described as being subjected to the four square meter rule will revert to the two square meter rule," Berejiklian said.
"We're not there yet, and the reason is that whilst we've had two 14-day cycles of the Northern Beaches not having any community transmission, in Southwest and Western Sydney we've gone through one cycle of no community transmission."
She highlighted the NSW Government aimed to take a balanced approach to keeping the virus under control and keeping the economy as open as possible.
"We're sending this message out today so that businesses can be prepared; so that businesses can know that in a couple of weeks' time they will feel increased trade and be able to plan for the year ahead," she said.
"We will also be looking at compliance. Do we need to increase fines to make sure businesses are being as vigilant as ever? Because because our strategy will only work if people do the right thing.
"What we're trying to do is prevent a super spreading event."
Minister Hazzard added there had been reports of large groups dancing and singing at weddings in violation of social distancing requirements, putting the community at risk.
Updated at 1:34pm AEDT on 27 January 2021.
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