Australia

NSW will ease a raft of coronavirus restrictions in time for the festive season

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has confirmed a raft of coronavirus restrictions will be eased. Source: AAP

NSW has recorded no new local coronavirus cases for 18 consecutive days, with some restrictions set to ease from 1 December.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has confirmed the state will ease a raft of coronavirus restrictions in time for the Christmas and New Year holiday season.

Caps on hospitality venues and the number of people allowed to gather at a private residence are among a series of measures to be eased from 1 December.

Speaking at a press conference from Sydney on Wednesday morning, the Premier urged NSW residents to maintain social distancing and COVID-safe measures after the new rules come into effect.

"We do appreciate this has a risk and we appreciate also that at the social events and private homes, social distancing is difficult to maintain, but we ask everybody to be very Covid-safe, especially if you have vulnerable people as part of your family or social gathering," Ms Berejiklian said.

"The virus is as contagious as ever, and we do not want those most vulnerable to be exposed in particular because we're not ... doing the right thing."

The following restrictions are expected to ease from 1 December:

  • Up to 50 people will be allowed to gather at a private residence, if there is an outdoor space. This is an increase from 20. If a backyard is unable to be utilised, only 30 people will be allowed.

  • 50 people will be allowed to gather outdoors, an increase from 30. 

  • Hospitality venues of up to 200 square metres in size will be allowed to have one patrons per two square metres in doors, with a maximum of 50 customers. This will double the number of patrons venues are allowed to hold.

Additionally, from 14 December, public health orders requiring employers to allow staff to work from home will end, with the government keen to get workers back to the Sydney CBD.

NSW Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance has urged commuters who will return to using public transport, to wear a mask.

"Please put a mask on. It's in your interest, and fellow commuters' interests," Mr Constance said.

"It's about keeping people safe and it is vital, particularly in the peak periods as people start to return to workplaces and office spaces."

NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said there have been instances of COVID-19 transmission on public transport. 

"Wear a mask ... it's critical," Mr Hazzard said.

"At no stage do we want to impose fines on people, but it will become necessary if people do not lift their game in wearing masks on public transport."

Earlier this week, NSW eased further restrictions, also meeting the QLD government's requirements to reopen the state border to Greater Sydney residents from 1 December. 

These were the restrictions eased earlier this week:

  • Up to 3,000 people can gather for outdoor ticketed events

  • Up to 500 people can attend outdoor church services

  • The 2 square metre rule applies if people are seated in chairs, the 4 square metre rule applying if people are sitting on rugs or in a group

  • 30 choir singers can perform outside, while only five are allowed to perform together indoors. All congregants at a religious service can sing but those over the age of 12 must wear a mask. 

NSW has now gone 18 days without a single case of locally acquired cases of COVID-19.

However, health officials have discovered COVID-19 virus fragments in sewage at the Liverpool sewage treatment plant in western Sydney, prompting renewed calls for residents to get tested.

The detection of the virus could reflect the presence of known cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in recent weeks in the area.

But NSW Health is concerned there could be other active cases in people who have not been tested and who might incorrectly assume their symptoms are "just a cold".

- Additional reporting by AAP.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction'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 https://sbs.com.au/coronavirus

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW,VictoriaQueenslandWestern AustraliaSouth AustraliaNorthern TerritoryACTTasmania

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