Both the Victorian and New South Wales Government have revealed that COVID-19 restrictions will be easing in each state.

Victoria’s Department of Health has announced that the state is officially COVID-free for the first time this year, as the final active case in the state had recovered from the virus.

The good news was followed with the announcement that COVID restrictions in certain venues across the state would be further eased.

Acting Premier James Merlino and Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton outlined changes to come into effect from Friday, with density limits in casinos, karaoke venues and nightclubs to change from one person per four square metres to one person per two square metres.

Friday will also see capacity at indoor non-seated entertainment venues increase to 75 per cent capacity with a limit of 1000 people per space. Dancefloors will move to the same density limit of the venue and the 50 patron cap will also be removed.

Acting Premier Merlino said: “We know the risk is far from over but thanks to the incredible work of all Victorians, we’re continuing to open up and see the Victoria we all love, return to life again.

“More Victorians back at work means more people supporting their local cafes, restaurants and live music venues – boosting the economy where it’s needed most.”

From 6pm on Friday 26 March, masks will no longer be required in retail settings but Victorians will still need to carry one with them at all times and wear it on public transport, in rideshare vehicles and taxis and in sensitive settings such as aged care facilities and hospitals.

Minister for Health Martin Foley added: “These changes are another positive step in Victoria’s social and economic recovery but also a reminder that now is not the time to be complacent – we must continue to keep each other safe, so we can stay open.”

The Government has also said that businesses will need to use the Service Victoria QR code system, unless their own QR system, which can be linked to food and beverage ordering, is delivering data to the Government in real-time.

Meanwhile NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that as of 12.01am on Monday 29 March a number of restrictions would be changing in the state.

There will be no restriction on dancing at pubs and nightclubs and all venues will move to the one person per 2sqm rule and venues will be allowed at least 25 people before the 2sqm rule applies.

Premier Berejiklian also emphasised that businesses and other organisations must continue to ensure they keep accurate records of all attendances, including through QR Codes, to enable fast contact tracing in the event of any community transmission.

“With no community transmission and our quarantine and frontline workers now receiving their second vaccinations, the timing is right to further ease restrictions across the state,” the Premier said.

“As we do this, it is important we don’t let our guard down and continue to check in at venues, keep our social distance and get tested if we have even the mildest of symptoms.”

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the further lifting of restrictions would help support businesses and jobs across the state.

“Today we take a another big stride in the right direction, easing restrictions is important in helping businesses return to normal, it’s like a jab of confidence for the economy,” he said.

AHA NSW Director of Liquor and Policing John Green welcomed today’s announcement, but called on the Government to keep doing more to help struggling pubs: “The return of dancing to venues from the end of the month is something many patrons will welcome,” Green said.

“In NSW recently we saw the return of the Aussie tradition of being able to stand up in a pub, hold a beer and chat to your mates. The return of dancing is another step in the process of getting things back to normal in many hotels and nightclubs and we welcome the Government’s announcement today.

“Many venues will also welcome the lifting of the cap on weddings and other functions – this will make a big difference to larger hotels in particular. However, we have to remember that hotels in NSW do remain at 50 per cent of capacity – that hasn’t changed so numbers on our premises stay exactly the same – we really need that to change to help struggling pubs, especially in regional areas.

“Also our member hotels are proud of the role we have played in the pandemic with our strict QR measures in place – we would like to remind our patrons it is just as important as ever to work with hotel staff, check in using the Service NSW app on arrival and do the right thing.”

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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