Aussie state scales back COVID-19 restrictions ahead of Christmas

In the lead up to Christmas, authorities in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) have further scaled back COVID-19 restrictions, introducing a two-square-metre per person rule to help boost business revenues.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the changes on Monday, as NSW which includes state capital Sydney, recorded its 25th straight day without a case of COVID-19.

As well as relaxing the one person per four-square-metres rule, changes include patrons being able to stand up while having a drink in an outdoor setting and being allowed to dance at weddings and other events.

Outdoor stadiums were told they could operate at 100 percent capacity which Berejiklian described as a “big move,” while indoor stadiums and theatres were allowed up to 75 percent capacity.

“What we’ve tried to achieve here is a healthy balance of giving people freedom and allowing businesses to flourish, while also maintaining those basic principles of living in a COVID safe way,” Berejiklian explained.

Because of the new two-square-metre rule per person, upper limits on patron numbers for hospitality venues and other events, such as weddings and funerals, were scrapped.

NSW Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope welcomed the news as hugely positive for businesses heading into the peak-spending Christmas period.

“This is great news for small businesses and communities across NSW, but we can’t let all our efforts to date go to waste,” Tudehope said.

“Practice good hygiene, maintain social distancing, and let’s all do our bit to celebrate this festive season safely.”