Life will take another step closer to normality for Canberrans next Friday (9 October), with a further easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the ACT.
Subject to the ACT’s COVID-19 situation remaining stable, ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said the territory would move to Step 3.2 of Canberra’s Recovery Plan.
Under the plan, the maximum number of people at gatherings will increase from 100 to 200, medium-sized hospitality venues with total usable space between 101 and 200 square metres can have a maximum of 50 people excluding staff, and enclosed outdoor venues can have up to 50 per cent seated capacity.
This brings stadiums in line with the exemption already granted to GIO Stadium for the Raiders elimination final against the Sharks on Saturday, with around 9,600 fans permitted to attend.
Large indoor seated venues like Canberra Theatre and Llewellyn Hall will be able to have 50 per cent of their seated capacity up to 1,000 people, while movie theatres and cinemas can have 50 per cent of their seated capacity up to 200 people.
Due to the accumulated risks in venues, Canberrans will still have to wait another four to six weeks before they can stand up at venues serving alcohol.
The improving situation in NSW in the last seven days is one of the reasons the ACT would move to ease restrictions to coincide with the end of school holidays, with an expected influx of families returning from NSW, Dr Coleman said.
“While it is important we continue to keep up the good work in protecting the community from COVID-19 here in the ACT, we can now further ease some restrictions on businesses and activities in a COVID-safe manner,” Dr Coleman said.
“These changes are another important step in returning to business as usual in a COVID-safe manner in the ACT,” Dr Coleman said.
“It is pleasing to see NSW recording almost no cases outside of hotel quarantine and Victoria continuing to see lower numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases. As I have continually said, we do not exist in a vacuum, and that also means when our neighbouring jurisdictions are in a strong position, it strengthens our position here in the ACT as well.”
The eased restrictions come as 700 venues across Canberra have embraced electronic check-in systems to make contact tracing easier, with the Check-In CBR app being downloaded more than 13,000 times.
A full list of the changes to the Public Health Directions being made can be found on the ACT Health COVID-19 website.
In addition to these changes, the Chief Health Officer is further exploring a change in the density requirements for outdoor spaces, to allow outdoor spaces to have one person per two square metres of usable space. A final decision relating to this change will be made next week.
Dr Coleman said these changes would not commence until next Friday to ensure ACT businesses had sufficient time to adjust their COVID Safe Plans. Once in effect, these settings would also be in place for at least four weeks to assess any impact of the changes on the ACT’s COVID-19 situation.
The Chief Health Officer will conduct her next COVID Safe Checkpoint on 6 November 2020.
“We understand these are the most significant changes we have made to the Public Health Directions in a number of weeks and we want to give businesses as much notice as possible to ensure they are ready to move once new directions come into effect,” Dr Coleman said.
“In making these changes, I urge all businesses to move to electronic recording of contact details, where possible, to better assist our contract tracing efforts if needed.
“For many businesses, these changes will allow them to welcome back more patrons in a COVID-safe manner. While we are increasing the amount of people that can visit these businesses, it is important we all continue to remember our responsibilities in responding to COVID-19.
“We need all Canberrans to continue to maintain physical distancing of 1.5 metres wherever possible, practise good hand and respiratory hygiene and when out and about, register their contact details wherever they go.”