Hospitality venues in New South Wales can now accept bookings for groups of up to 30 people from Friday 23 October.
Physical distancing rules continue to apply: venues can have one patron per 4 square metres indoors while those that use electronic entry recording can have one patron per 2 square metrss outdoors. Mingling is still prohibited, with guests required to be seated.
Venues are currently limited to a maximum capacity of 300 people. For venues with multiple areas this limit applies to each separate area.
All venues should businesses must implement electronic contact tracing methods, such as QR codes, before taking advantage of the eased restrictions.
With homes still considered high risk environments, Premier Gladys Berejiklian urged the public to consider making bookings at COVID-Safe venues for any festive season celebrations.
“Now this is good news to allow people to prepare for Christmas and the celebrations over summer,” said Ms Berejiklian. “Interestingly, the health experts agree, and have given us advice, that it could be actually be safer to go to a restaurant or hotel or somewhere that’s COVID-Safe for your Christmas lunch… and we want everyone to plan ahead for that.
“These changes will provide a big boost to our hospitality venues. As we ease restrictions and find new ways to get businesses moving it is vital that customers and venues continue to be COVID-Safe.”
The changes are in addition to last the increase in capacity for corporate functions announced last week. As of Friday 16 October, 300 people can now be held at any appropriate premises, including at restaurants, so long as the venue’s COVID-Safe plan allows.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and NSW Health Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant both implored people to continue following personal hygiene recommendations, maintain physical distancing and wear masks in indoor settings where physically distancing is not practical.
Melbourne set to reopen for dine-in from 2 November
Melbourne will move to the next phase of its reopening on at 11.59pm on 1 November. The transition will see hospitality venues allowed to seat 20 people inside, with a limit of 10 people per space, and 50 people outside. The 4 square metre rule will continue to apply indoors, while a cap of one diner per 2 square metres will apply outdoors. Groups of diners must be seated 1.5 metres from other groups. Bookings can be made for groups of up to 10.
Food courts will remain closed except for takeaway and delivery.
Melbournites will be able to leave their homes for any reason.
“This is a timeline that is based on the current advice of our public health team,” said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. “But if we continue to track well on the most important indicators — case averages, mystery cases, test numbers and the number of days people wait before they get tested — we may be in a position to move sooner.”
As of 11.59pm on 18 October, Venues in regional Victoria are able to seat up to 40 customers indoors and up to 70 outdoors.
Industry veteran Chris Lucas criticised the continued closure of hospitality and retail businesses, posting a message to Premier Andrews on Instagram stories: “I think @danielandrewsmp step of keeping hospitality & retail closed speaks less of a fear of a third wave and more of a lack of confidence in his systems, procedures and processes and their ability to deal with COVID.”