Two-step, big leap forward to easing ACT restrictions

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Chief Minister Andrew Barr announces the latest relaxation of restrictions in the ACT.

The ACT will see a wide-ranging easing of restrictions – including hospitality limits, gyms and beauty parlours – in time for the long-weekend, with further easing, including opening cinemas, from June 19.  

Chief Minister Andrew Barr says that from 11.59pm on Friday (May 29), the ACT will implement a scalable framework for local hospitality sector to align maximum occupancy with the size of their venue.

“Cafes, bars, restaurants and clubs will be able to cater for up to 20 people in each enclosed space. Venues cannot exceed one person per four square metres including staff.  This is for both indoor and outdoor spaces,” he says.

For example:

Size                      Maximum number
of space              of people

20m2                      5
40m2                     10
60m2                     15
+80m2                   20

“If a venue has multiple enclosed spaces, they can have multiple groups of 20 patrons.

“This framework allows larger venues with clearly separated enclosed spaces to cater for more patrons. Some of the larger venues in the ACT with multiple enclosed and outdoor spaces may be able to accommodate 150 or more patrons.”

Beauty therapy businesses, including nail salons, tanning and waxing services, day spas (including massage) and tattoo businesses can reopen on Saturday.

“These businesses must complete a COVID Safe plan, observe strict hand hygiene requirements and ensure physical distancing as much as possible,” Mr Barr says.

“Businesses cannot exceed one person per four square metres including staff.  These businesses should also keep a record of their customers to support faster contact tracing.”

Indoor gyms and fitness centres can begin a gradual reintroduction of their businesses.

“Small, supervised group sessions and classes indoors can recommence, with a maximum of 20 people to an enclosed space or one person per four square metres,” says the Chief Minister.

“These businesses must complete a COVID Safe plan, observe strict hand hygiene requirements and ensure physical distancing as much as possible.

“The maximum capacity of organised social sport will be increased to 20 participants, and indoor sport can commence under the one person per four square metres rule.

“Local sporting organisations are encouraged to ensure low physical contact, and to limit the sharing of equipment. Hand washing before and after sessions is strongly advised, and shared facilities other than toilets will not be open.

Mr Barr says the local $2.5 billion tourism industry has been “decimated” by COVID-19 and its recovery will take years and require ongoing support from the ACT and Commonwealth governments.

“To start this recovery, our galleries, museums, national institutions and outdoor attractions (such as the zoo) will be able to reopen for groups of up to 20 people in a designated session,” he says.

“Businesses cannot exceed one person per four square metres including staff. The ACT government will be working closely with these institutions in the coming weeks as they start to reopen, as we start to welcome domestic visitation back to the ACT in the weeks ahead.” 

Restrictions on choirs, bands and orchestras, caravan parks and campgrounds, places of worship and community centres will also be eased from Saturday.

“The maximum number of people at a wedding will be increased to 20, and 50 for funerals. Venues and activities cannot exceed one person per four square metres including staff and officials,” he says.

“Should these measures not result in any significant increase in cases across the territory,  the government will move into the next phase of our recovery plan on 11.59pm, June 19.

“This phase will see maximum occupancy limits in some sectors, including hospitality, increase to 50 people per enclosed space. Cinemas, indoor amusement centres will also be able to reopen and there will be further easing of restrictions for gyms, health centres and community sport.

“Further consideration of measures outlined in stage 3 of the National Cabinet COVIDSafe Plan will start in a month as we monitor the impact of the easing of restrictions undertaken to date.”

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