The Canberra Liberals are asking ‘why wait?’, but it’s likely the ACT will follow NSW in easing restrictions on pubs, cafes and restaurants and then some after National Cabinet meets next Tuesday.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says venues will be able to serve up to 50 people at a time from 1 June as coronavirus cases in NSW continue to decline.
Under the new measures, hospitality venues will be required to adhere to strict guidelines to operate, including each patron having at least four-square-metres of space, bookings of no more than 10 people, no patrons allowed to stand, mingle or dance, and shared cutlery and buffets will be banned.
Canberra Liberals Leader Alistair Coe said he hoped the move would encourage the ACT Government to take a more tailored approach with Canberra’s hospitality sector.
“As the Chief Minister frequently states, Canberra is an island within NSW,” Mr Coe said.
“Now that the NSW Government is allowing their pubs, clubs and restaurants to operate in a COVID-safe environment, Canberra’s hospitality sector should also have the opportunity to operate at greater capacity where safe to do so.
“If Canberrans can safely enjoy a meal at the pub in Queanbeyan, they should be able to safely enjoy a meal in the ACT.”
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the government had already indicated that it would be easing restrictions from 29 May subject to health advice.
”Cabinet will be meeting on Tuesday 26 May, where the easing of restrictions for the Territory, based on health advice, will be considered,” he said.
”Our intention is to make a comprehensive announcement next week so that everyone knows where they stand from 30 May and what the decision points will be after that.”
Mr Barr said a consideration was the impact that maximum gathering numbers would have on various industries that are currently restricted, and not just the hospitality sector.
”This includes indoor fitness, community sport, cultural institutions and entertainment venues such as cinemas,” he said.
Mr Coe said the Canberra Liberals had put forward options for the ACT Government to urgently adopt, including requiring venues to implement a minimum of 1.5 metres between dining groups; limiting the number of patrons (to 10 or 20) in a dedicated or enclosed area; and/or limiting patronage to a percentage of current occupancy (for example, 30 per cent of current occupancy building up to 100 per cent).
“As the Canberra Liberals have repeatedly stated, the ACT is uniquely positioned to have a flexible and targeted approach to safely reopen Canberra’s cafes and restaurants,” he said.
“The key principle to reopening our local economy is keeping people safe through social distancing and appropriate hygiene.”