Just a week after announcing more people could visit public spaces, hospitality venues and homes, the NSW Government has announced a further easing of COVID-19 restrictions, which will see a return to dance floors and larger weddings and funerals from next week.
NSW PremierGladys Berejiklian said the two square metre rule would be expanded and venue caps removed under a major easing of restrictions announced yesterday.
The NSW government said from next Monday, December 7, venues, including hospitality venues, retail outlets and places of worship, could have one person per two square metres (with 25 people permitted before the rule applies).
Only gyms and nightclubs would continue to adhere to the one person per four square metres rule, with a maximum of 50 people allowed in gym classes or on the dancefloor at nightclubs.
Stadiums and theatres could return to 100 per cent capacity if seated outdoors, or one person per two square metres if using unstructured seating areas; and 75 per cent capacity if seated indoors.
Up to 100 people can gather outdoors (up from 50), while up to 5000 people can attend outdoor events that are fenced, ticketed and seated. Up to 3000 people will be able to gather for other organised outdoor events, such as community sport and outdoor protests.
Meanwhile fun is back, with up to 50 people allowed on indoor dance floors. Up to 50 people can sing indoors, while there is no longer a maximum number for outdoors, but congregations or audiences should wear masks if singing.
Under the changes, maximum capacity caps will be removed, subject to the two square metre rule, for hospitality venues, weddings, funerals, agricultural shows, corporate events and religious services.
"We are grateful to the people in NSW for their patience and understanding over what has been an incredibly difficult year," Ms Berejiklian said.
"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."
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the people of NSW had worked hard to keep COVID-19 under control and deserved this major easing of restrictions.
"[It is] great timing with Christmas fast approaching, as we will soon see larger crowds at venues and events," Mr Barilaro said.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said most venues would be able to double their capacity under the changes, which would 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," Mr Perrottet said
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said as restrictions eased, the community needed to continue to be COVID Safe; a view shared by NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant.
"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," Dr Chant said.