Cafes, restaurants and pubs in New South Wales will be able to welcome more patrons to their venues from Friday, under a number of changes to coronavirus restrictions announced by the state government on Tuesday.
Hospitality venues across the state are currently subject to density restrictions, which limit the number of people allowed in outdoor areas to one per four square metres.
From Friday, October 16, venues will be allowed to have one patron for every two square metres of outdoor areas.
However, indoor dining will still be restricted to the four-square-metre rule.
Venues that wish to increase the number of patrons in their outdoor areas must still have a COVID Safety Plan, and record and keep contact details for patrons via electronic methods, such as QR codes.
The NSW government is also relaxing restrictions for outdoor seated music performances and rehearsals.
Under changes that came into effect immediately, up to 500 people will now be able to attend these performances, provided they are seated and adhering to the four-square-metre density rule.
Prior to the change, only 20 people were permitted at these types of events.
Organisers of outdoor music events and rehearsals will be required to have a COVID Safety Plan that covers hygiene and cleaning requirements; physical distancing requirements for audience members; recordkeeping for all attendees; and the wellbeing of the audience.
In a statement, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the easing of restrictions has been made possible because of the way businesses and communities have been working together to keep coronavirus cases low.
“In NSW, we are focused on keeping the virus under control but also ensuring our economy keeps going and these changes will allow hospitality venues to increase their capacity in a COVID-safe way,” she said.
“This is also a big boost for our music industry with more people in NSW able to enjoy music in the outdoors over the summer.
“Our aim is to provide as many opportunities as we can for businesses and organisations to succeed — but for that strategy to be successful, we need everyone to follow their COVID-19 Safety Plan.”
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said in the same statement that the changes will “breathe more life into hospitality venues”.
“This is another step toward as normal a life as possible in a COVID-19 world, and will draw more people to our hospitality venues to catch up with family and friends, particularly in outdoor spaces as summer approaches,” he said.
However, the Minister said easing restrictions does come with increased risk and therefore physical distancing and good hand hygiene will be important. He also encouraged anyone who is unwell to get tested and stay home while they wait for results.