While we are still a long way from the “normality” of what once was, any type of carefully considered ease of the ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions is more than welcome.
A number of relaxed restrictions across the Greater Sydney region have been announced; good news, following the recent Northern Beaches cluster that drove up concern among residents, business owners, and the local government.
Among the new rules: more guests per household, no compulsory mask-wearing at retail venues, and eased restrictions on the square metres spacing rule.
Here is the list of new measures effective from 12:01am Friday, 29 January across the Greater Sydney region, including Wollongong, Central Coast and Blue Mountains:
- Visitors to households will be increased to 30 guests – including children.
- Outdoor gatherings will be increased to 50 people in total.
- Weddings and funerals will be capped at 300 people (fully seated) subject to the 1 person per 4sqm rule with no singing or dancing (except 20 nominated people in the wedding party can dance).
- All other venues including hospitality venues, places of worship and corporate event venues (fully seated with no singing or dancing) will be subject to the 1 person per 4sqm rule.
- Smaller hospitality venues will be allowed at least 25 people.
- Singing indoors including choirs or places of worship will be limited to five people.
- Masks will be recommended but no longer compulsory at retail shopping venues.
- Masks will remain compulsory for front-of-house hospitality staff, on public transport, in places of worship, hairdressers, beauticians and gaming rooms.
- Aged care facilities and other health settings such as hospitals will receive tailored advice from NSW Health specific to their locations in relation to requirements around mask wearing.
There are also relaxations on the way when it comes to spacing rules. The current 4sqm rule is expected to ease to 1 person per2sqm in a fortnight – if the positive trends seen recently continue.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian commended residents for their patience, while also pointing out the importance of COVID-19 testing.
“The community has been outstanding in containing this outbreak. The sacrifice and efforts of everyone is why we can ease restrictions today,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“We must remain vigilant – it is critical we are getting tested with the mildest of symptoms, follow the health advice and continue to be COVID-Safe right across the state.”
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the statewide easing of restrictions should provide some relief for businesses and venues.
“These changes will provide more certainty to plan events such as weddings and functions, and will give businesses more clarity around restrictions while still remaining COVID-Safe” Mr Barilaro said.
The ease of restrictions across Sydney comes days after a COVID-19 vaccine was given provisional approval by the Australian Government. COMIRNATY, a COVID-19 vaccine from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, is expected to begin a rollout in late February.