As the state recorded its third consecutive day without any instances of community transmission on September 25, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the relaxation of certain social restrictions, including rules regarding school and community sport and group music activities.
Of the eased restrictions announced by Berejiklian, one relating to wedding receptions stands out as perhaps the strangest rule introduced to date. Until now, dancing at wedding receptions has been prohibited except for the bride and groom. The dance embargo will now be lifted, but only for 20 guests at the reception. To be clear, this does not mean that only 20 people at a time can dance, but that only 20 pre-selected weddings guests, who must be part of the "bridal party", will be allowed to dance. All other guests (up to 150 are permitted at present) will not be allowed to bust any grooves. That's right: 130 seated guests, watching 20 lucky revellers doing the Macarena.
NSW health minister Brad Hazzard said that enquiries about dancing at weddings were presently the single biggest public demand received by his office. However, a question now remains: how do you pick the 20 guests who get to dance? Do you hold auditions? Do you run a lottery? Do you deliberately include your loose unit uncle who will definitely get smashed and start a conga line? It seems any method of selection is permitted, so long as the 20 chosen are the "bridal party" and the rest of your wedding guests make like the town from Footloose and stay off the dance floor.
Spectators at community sports matches will be allowed to cheer on games again, although adequate spacing to meet with physical distancing rules must be ensured. Community choirs will also be allowed to resume but limited to a maximum of five singers who must be at least 1.5 metres apart during both rehearsals and performances.
Just a single new case was reported in a returned traveller in hotel quarantine in the 24-hour reporting period between September 22 to 23, continuing a downward trend in new cases over the previous fortnight. Life in NSW has been lingering in a strange limbo for several months, as the threat of a second wave, similar to Melbourne’s devastating resurgence, has hovered over an uneasy return to many everyday activities.
Large parts of metropolitan Sydney and hundreds of venues across the state were tagged as “hotspots” as the state’s contact tracers raced to cut the chains of transmission of fresh outbreaks. However, thanks to the adoption of operating guidelines by hospitality businesses, which currently require patrons to check in upon arrival, as well as strict monitoring by state authorities, the uncontained spread of the virus in the community has once again been largely suppressed.
Despite the encouraging signs, Berejiklian insisted that people in NSW needed to continue to observe strict safety measures to ensure the state’s low rates of infection remained near zero.