Diners get first taste of new COVID restrictions

Numbers game: Restaurants such as Sealevel Restaurant and Bar at Cronulla can now increase table bookings after the easing of restrictions.
Numbers game: Restaurants such as Sealevel Restaurant and Bar at Cronulla can now increase table bookings after the easing of restrictions.

St George and Sutherland Shire residents got their first taste of larger public gatherings following the easing of COVID restrictions from Friday.

Gatherings in outdoor public spaces and group bookings at restaurants both increased to 30 people under a relaxation of COVID-19 rules announced by the NSW government on October 19.

Two days later, the government said religious gatherings and places of worship could also increase capacity from Friday, while gyms would no longer need to employ a safety marshal if less than 20 people were inside.

From October 23, 30 people can gather outdoors in public spaces (up from 20), while restaurants can take up to 30 customers per booking and seat up to 30 diners together (up from 10.)

Hospitality venues must still comply with floorspace ratios, which allow one person per four square metres indoors. The changes come after the government also announced that up to 300 people could attend corporate functions in venues or restaurants from October 16.

Up to 300 people will be allowed to attend a wedding, subject to the one person per four square metre rule indoors, and one person per two square metres when outdoors, from December 1.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the government remained focused on managing COVID-19 while opening up the economy in a safe way.

"These changes will provide a big boost to our hospitality venues," Ms Berejiklian said.

"As we ease restrictions and find new ways to get businesses moving, it is vital that customers and venues continue to be COVID-Safe."

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the easing of restrictions was another important step in driving economic recovery while returning to life.

"We continue to remain focused on stimulating the economy, keeping businesses in business and people in jobs," Mr Perrottet said.

But Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said while lower case numbers was a good sign, we were not yet out of the woods.

"It is vital as we ease restrictions people continue to do the right thing, stay home if unwell and get tested, even with the most minimal of symptoms," he said.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said people should still continue to follow personal hygiene recommendations, maintain physical distancing and wear masks indoors when physical distancing was not possible.

There has been no change to the number of visitors allowed in a home, which remains at 20 adults and children combined.

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