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People sitting inside cafe at One Another Cafe Newtown
Photograph: Katje Ford

The crucial detail you might not know about the four-square-metre rule in restaurants

The actual expectations of the new regulations are a lot more realistic than many realise

Written by
Maxim Boon

While cafés and restaurants will be permitted to reopen across NSW on Friday, May 15, strict rules will still need to be observed by hospitality businesses. A maximum of ten patrons are permitted in a venue at any one time, and a minimum of four square metres of space must be allocated to each customer. For example, in order for a venue to host the maximum of ten patrons, the customer areas must have a footprint of at least 40 square metres.

These rules have caused confusion among many consumers, who have interpreted them as meaning each individual person in a café or restaurant is required to remain within a four-square-metre ‘bubble’, which would make sitting down to a meal with a few friends practically impossible. However, the premier’s office has clarified for Time Out the intended application of the four-square-metre rule, and it’s a lot more realistic in its expectations.

While it is true that a venue will need to limit the number of customers at any one time based on its square footage – for example, a 12-square-metre venue can host three diners, whereas a 20-square-metre venue can host five – diners are still permitted to sit closer to each other, at the same table, if they want.

However, while this will technically allow small groups to dine together, physical distancing rules are still advised by state health authorities, meaning that if you intend to dine with people who are outside of your household or are not your exclusive partner, you should try to remain 1.5 metres apart. Enhanced hand hygiene should also be observed, and customers should enquire about sanitation measures in a venue to make sure their dining experience is safe.

Still unclear about what rules are being eased on May 15? We have all the details.

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