NSW Government announces major easing of COVID-19 restrictions from next week

Softer restrictions: Smaller cafes will be able to host more people from next week.
Softer restrictions: Smaller cafes will be able to host more people from next week.

After nine months of restrictions limiting the number of people in public spaces, hospitality venues and even at home, the NSW Government has announced a "major easing of COVID-19 restrictions" in a bid to boost the hospitality industry.

From next Tuesday, December 1, up to 50 people will be able to visit a residence if an outdoor space is being used, up from 20, and 50 will be able to gather outdoors in a public space, an increase from 30.

Small hospitality venues up to 200 square metres in size will be allowed to have one person per two square metres indoors, instead of one person per four square metres.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the people of NSW had demonstrated that by working together and following COVID-Safe protocols, restrictions could safely be eased.

"The community has done an incredible job this year under trying circumstances," Ms Berejiklian said.

"I hope these changes provide a boost to the hospitality industry and give people certainty in how they can celebrate safely with family, friends and colleagues over the Christmas and New Year period."

She also announced that from Monday, December 14, the Public Health Order requiring employers to allow employees to work from home whereever it is reasonably practicable will also be repealed, with some exceptions.

Workplaces are encouraged to have COVID-Safe plans in place and employers are asked to stagger staff starting and finishing times to reduce the impact on public transport.

Those on public transport are also strongly encouraged to wear a mask.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the increased capacity at smaller hospitality venues would make a big difference to cafes and small restaurants across NSW.

"We won't let this be the COVID that stole Christmas," he said.

"An increase for gatherings at home and a return of the two per two square metre rule for smaller hospitality venues, I hope, will be welcome news across the state.

"We want the people of NSW to have a proper festive season. They deserve it."

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the government had worked closely with NSW Health to ease restrictions safely in time for end-of-year celebrations.

"It's important we work together to keep the community safe, so where possible, gather together outdoors, get tested if you have any symptoms and if you are elderly or have underlying health issues, you should be particularly cautious," Mr Hazzard said.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said it was vital for people to continue to come forward for testing.

"More people will be hosting gatherings in their homes, going out for lunches and dinners and socialising, so if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, however mild, please come forward for testing," Dr Chant said.

This story Restrictions to ease next week first appeared on St George & Sutherland Shire Leader.