Small businesses cleared to return to pre-covid capacity

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ACT chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman

CANBERRA’S chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman has cleared the way for small businesses, venues and facilities, to ease covid capacity restrictions. 

This means that small businesses, from 9am, tomorrow (September 18), will be able to have a maximum capacity of 25 people. Businesses that do want more than 25 people in their venue will still need to apply the one person per 4sq m rule. 

Dr Coleman says venues must still abide by their current standard occupancy loading and regulatory conditions of the venue, so liquor licensing limits still apply. 

“I recognise that this may mean that some customers in smaller businesses will not be able to maintain the physical distancing that we have been stressing for so long but in this instance we’re asking everybody to strive to separate groups or tables that don’t know each other as far apart as practical in the usable space,” Dr Coleman says. 

“We acknowledge that the trade-off here is there’s some increased risk of transmission or spread of the virus if a case attends that venue.”  

However, she says, Canberrans still have a personal responsibility, and Dr Coleman flags some signs of complacency in the community. 

“In our last week, our daily testing numbers have started to fall. At the moment, they’re around 400, we’d like to see them prop up again up to 600 to 800, which we were seeing for several weeks,” Dr Coleman says. 

“Additionally over the last fortnight we’re starting to see some of our compliance measures falling as well. I can absolutely understand that everyone is damn tired of this pandemic. The reality, though, is it is going to be here with us for a year or two, so we will continue working with you so we can continue to do the right thing, both in the community when we’re out and about as well as with our business. 

“I [also] want to remind everybody that the ACT doesn’t exist in a vacuum and we do know that the situation can change very quickly. There is still community transmission in the greater sydney region and while Victoria is very quickly now progressing to become under control, there are still cases of community transmission in Victoria. 

“This is why we still need to take a sensible, staged approach in terms of easing of any restrictions.” 

The last active coronavirus case in the ACT was 10 weeks ago. Three-hundred and ten people are currently in home or hotel quarantine. The ACT has 88,000 negative COVID-19 tests.

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