Australia

Call for NSW to scrap ‘ludicrous’ rule

Premier Gladys Berejiklian is under growing pressure to ease a particular COVID-19 restriction, with even Victoria taking a more relaxed approach than NSW.Victoria eased a raft of restrictions overnight, including allowing venues with less than 200sq m of indoor floor space to apply the 2sq m rule, with a limit of 50 people.Larger venues must…

Premier Gladys Berejiklian is under growing pressure to ease a particular COVID-19 restriction, with even Victoria taking a more relaxed approach than NSW.

Victoria eased a raft of restrictions overnight, including allowing venues with less than 200sq m of indoor floor space to apply the 2sq m rule, with a limit of 50 people.

Larger venues must adhere to the 4sq m rule, with a limit of 150 people.

In NSW, the 4sq m rule still applies to all indoor hospitality venues, regardless of their size. This is despite NSW having no locally acquired COVID-19 cases for the past 15 days.

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Hospitality venues that have a QR code sign in system can apply the 2sq m rule for outdoor areas only.

Those in the hospitality industry are now pushing for Ms Berejiklian to ease restrictions and give some relief to struggling pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes.

Chef and restaurateur Luke Mangan said it was “ludicrous” that NSW was now trailing behind Victoria in easing restrictions.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Mangan said moving doubling the capacity of hospitality venues by moving to the 2sq m rule would give businesses a change to survive the pandemic.

“Premier, let’s not ruin what you’ve done for this state so far by holding us back when other states are opening up,” he said.

“It’s ludicrous that Victoria is now moving ahead of us when we’ve done such a great job to get where we are.”

Mr Mangan questioned why restrictions were being eased for “race meetings, the football and other major events” but strict rules were still in place for hospitality venues.

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However, it may not be long before the 4sq m rule is relaxed, with The Daily Telegraph reporting the NSW government was “close” to making a decision on easing the restrictions.

A number of other restrictions were eased from 12.01am on Monday, including the hard border between NSW and Victoria.

For the first time in months, residents from both states can now freely cross the border without having to apply for a permit.

“Restrictions are eased and once the border comes down at midnight, I know life will be much more positive for this region but also for all of Australia,” Ms Berejiklian said.

The limit on outdoor events, including religious services, has also been raised from 300 to 500 people in NSW.

The capacity for controlled and ticketed outdoor events, such as concerts, has also increased to 3000, with the 2sq m rule in place for assigned seating or the 4sq m rule in place if an allocated seating area is in place.

Up to 30 singers will now be permitted outdoors, however, the current five-person limit will remain for indoor venues.

The audience or congregation may also sing but anyone aged 12 and over must wear a mask.

In addition, capacity at funerals will increase to 300 people from December 1.

A new rule was also brought in on Monday, with NSW businesses now required to use a QR code to check in patrons, with penalties in place for those that fail to implement an electronic system.

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