COVID-19 safety rules will be relaxed in New South Wales from this Friday, 16 October with hospitality venues to be allowed one patron for every two square metres in outdoor areas.

Venues wishing to take advantage of the relaxed restrictions must use electronic methods like QR codes to record and keep contact details.

The new changes will also see 500 people allowed to attend outdoor seated music performances and rehearsals, subject to the four square metre rule and people being seated.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said restrictions were being eased because businesses and the community were doing a great job of working together to keep COVID-19 at bay.

“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,” the Premier 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.”

Australian Hotels Association NSW’s Director of Liquor and Policing, John Green, said it was disappointing that inconsistencies around numbers had not been addressed, and that the new measures where unlikely to make a huge difference to many venues.

“This change is another small step forward, but it’s unlikely to be of real benefit to the majority of hotels and their patrons – especially those in regional and suburban areas – which simply don’t have large outdoor areas,” Green said.

“It’s disappointing NSW continues to lag behind Queensland where patrons are allowed to now stand while drinking. A lot of inconsistencies still remain – 40,000 can attend the football in NSW, while 1000 can attend an indoor cinema. However, hotels are also still restricted by the 1.5m rule between tables and bookings of only 10 people.”

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said relaxing the rules to one patron per two square metres in outdoor areas will provide a big boost to hospitality businesses.

“Cafés, restaurants, pubs and clubs can now open up to more people as we enter summer and this will help drive recovery and keep people in jobs.

“This is an important change and increasing capacity for patrons was something raised by many stakeholders at the recent Summer Summit.”

NSW Health Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said hospitality venues will still be required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

“Hospitality venues will also need to use electronic methods to capture and keep contact records of their patrons, if they wish to take advantage of the new eased restrictions.”

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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