Australia

NSW arts scene gets a boost as state eases coronavirus restrictions for venues

NSW Minister for the Arts Don Harwin. Source: AAP

NSW is easing coronavirus restrictions for certain entertainment venues after the state marked a third straight day without any locally acquired cases of COVID-19.

Coronavirus restrictions will be eased for theatres, cinemas and concert venues across NSW, in a boost for the arts scene.

Under the changes, entertainment facilities can increase capacity to 50 per cent and function centres hosting corporate meetings will be allowed to cater for up to 300 people, up from 150, from next week.

"For workers across the full spectrum of the performing arts - from box office staff to ushers, from technicians and roadies to the artists - this change means more jobs," Arts Minister Don Harwin said on Friday.

"For audiences, it means we can soon enjoy the experiences we have all missed so much during the pandemic."

Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the relaxation of restrictions on corporate events will boost business for function centres.

"Its vitally important for the business community to back on its feet by being able to collaborate and share ideas in person once again," he said in a statement.

The upcoming changes announced on Friday add to an ongoing push by the state government to reopen the NSW economy in the wake of the pandemic.

For the third consecutive day on Thursday, there were no new cases of community-spread COVID-19 in NSW, and just one case recorded in a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

From Friday, up to 20 people in bridal parties will now be allowed on the wedding dancefloor. Previously, only the bride and groom were allowed to dance.

Interschool activities will resume on Saturday - again under COVID-safe rules - and parents will be allowed to watch from the sidelines while practising social distancing. No carpooling is allowed.

School choirs, musical ensembles, camps and excursions will resume in Term 4, as will school sports.

Year 6 formals and graduations are back on and high school formals will be permitted after the HSC, while kindergarten orientation and Year 7 transitions will be allowed under COVID-safe rules.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Thursday dangled the prospect of New Year's Eve fireworks being held on Sydney Harbour this year to "offer people a glimmer of hope".

But mass gatherings on the harbour foreshore won't be allowed.

NSW Health is treating 71 cases, with two patients in intensive care. None are on ventilators and the majority are in non-acute, out-of-hospital care.

There were 17,392 coronavirus tests conducted in the past 24-hour reporting period, compared with 16,759 in the previous 24.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

 

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