Hot on the heels of prime minister Scott Morrison’s announcement on Friday, June 12, that the national cabinet would be recommending an even swifter exit from current social restrictions, premier Gladys Berejiklian has outlined how these federal recommendations will be actioned in NSW within weeks.
From July 1, the 50 person limit on the occupancy of indoor venues – which currently includes hospitality businesses such as cafés and restaurants, places of worship and retail spaces – will be scrapped. The number of people permitted in a venue will then be determined by the four-square-metre rule, which means that the upper limit of a venue's capacity will no longer be arbitrary but rather determined by its size. Proprietors will be required to allot at least four square metres of space per patron.
From July 1, the state will also adopt the federal recommendations regarding outdoor cultural and sporting venues with a capacity equal to or less than 40,000 people. These venues will be allowed to begin operating again with a maximum occupancy of 25 per cent their normal capacity, to allow for physical distancing. This will mean that a venue with a 40,000 person capacity will be able to accommodate up to 10,000 patrons at an event, paving the way for the return of stadium concerts and sports matches. Such events will need to be ticketed, with allocated seating, to allow for accurate contact tracing should an outbreak occur. Venues with a maximum capacity of more than 40,000 people will remain closed for the time being.
NSW authorities also foreshadowed a future announcement regarding nightclubs, bars without table service and music festivals. While those businesses and events will remain shuttered through July, they may be allowed to resume in August, subject to the advice of the state’s health experts.
The state's actions to suppress the virus have produced extremely positive results since restrictions began easing one month ago, on May 15. While premiere Berejiklian had previously warned that an increase in cases was inevitable as restrictions were rolled back, this predicted incline has not yet been seen. NSW had recorded 15 consecutive days without any cases of community transmission being detected, a streak that was broken on Saturday, June 13, when one case of locally acquired infection was identified within the 24-hour reporting period.