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NSW COVID restaurants and outdoor meeting restrictions, eased

Restrictions for outdoor dining and outdoor music performances will be eased, under relaxed COVID-19 safety rules said a statement from the NSW Premier’s office.

  1. From this Friday, 16 October restrictions at hospitality venues will be eased to allow one patron for every two square metres in outdoor areas (previously this was one person per four square metres).

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

  1. Under changes effective immediately, 500 people will be able to attend outdoor seated music performances and rehearsals, subject to the four square metre rule and people being seated (previously 20 people were permitted).

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the community and businesses are doing a great job of working together to keep COVID-19 at bay, which meant the rules could now be relaxed.

“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,” Ms Berejiklian 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.”

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,” Mr Perrottet said.

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

Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said easing the rules would breathe more life into hospitality venues after a rocky year of closures and limited re-openings, giving the community more opportunities to dine out.

“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,” Mr Hazzard said.

“In doing so we increase our risk, so it’s important everyone continues to practise physical distancing and good hand hygiene, and to get tested if unwell and stay home until a negative result is obtained.”

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,” Dr Chant said.

Organisers of outdoor music performances or rehearsals are required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan, which must cover:

  • Wellbeing of the audience
  • Physical distancing requirements for audience
  • Hygiene and cleaning requirements
  • Record keeping of all attendees.

Facilitator, Roundtable of Vocal, Instrumental and Music Education Organisations (RIVMEO), Stephen O’Doherty, said the easing of restrictions will make a big difference to thousands of musicians for whom making music for the enjoyment of others is a central part of their life.

“The checklist provided by Health will be of great assistance to groups in planning outdoor performances and rehearsals. It is a helpful and sensible way to phase in the return of group music,” Mr O’Doherty said.