The ACT Government today released Canberra’s Recovery Plan, an “easing of restrictions roadmap” outlining how the Territory will wind back its COVID-19 rules and regulations.
The plan lays out timeframes for the reopening of businesses, services and activities in the coming weeks and months as the ACT’s COVID-19 restrictions gradually ease.
By the end of this week, the ACT’s hospitality venues will be welcoming more customers for dining, people will be back pumping iron in gyms, beauty salons will reopen, as will galleries and museums.
From 11.59pm this Friday 29 May, the ACT will move into Step 2.1, which will allow cafes, bars, restaurants and clubs to cater for up to 20 people in each enclosed space. If a venue has multiple enclosed spaces, they can have multiple groups of 20 patrons.
Some large venues in the ACT with multiple enclosed indoor and outdoor spaces, like the Hellenic Club and Southern Cross Club in Phillip, may be able to cater for 150 patrons or more under these arrangements.
When asked if he thought Canberrans would flock across the NSW border where pubs will be allowed up to 50 patrons, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr replied “no”.
“We are not lock-step with NSW in many ways. We are moving forward in many ways in which NSW is not moving forward,” ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said.
Beauty therapy businesses, including nail salons, tanning and waxing services, day spas (including massage) and tattoo businesses can reopen as long as strict hand hygiene requirements are observed and physical distancing is obeyed where plausible.
Indoor gyms and fitness centres will also begin gradually reopening their businesses.
Small, supervised indoor group fitness sessions and classes will recommence, with a maximum of 20 people to an enclosed space or one person per four square metres.
The maximum capacity of organised social sport will be increased to 20 participants, and indoor sport can commence.
Step 2.1 will also include the reopening of galleries, museums, cultural institutions, and outdoor attractions (such as the National Zoo and Aquarium) for groups of up to 20 people in designated sessions.
The social gathering size limit will increase from 10 to 20 as long as physical distancing requirements are met.
Dr Coleman said the ACT has tried to give a wide range of openings to all sectors within the community.
“It comes down to a consideration of the cumulative risk across multiple different sectors and multiple different venues and how we are choosing within the ACT to deliver on that,” she said.
Step 2 will be a two-step process (2.1 and 2.2) that will allow for larger gatherings and a reopening of a wide range of businesses.
Dr Coleman said if the ACT “remains in a good position”, by 19 June we will move to Step 2.2 where COVID-19 restrictions will ease further.
Step 2.2 will see maximum occupancy limits in some sectors, including hospitality, increase to 50 people per enclosed space.
Universities, CIT and other vocational training providers would then be allowed to increase face-to-face learning where possible.
Cinemas and indoor amusement centres will reopen, and there will be further easing of restrictions for gyms and community sport.
Further consideration of measures outlined in Step 3 of the National Cabinet COVIDSafe Plan will start in June as the impact of the easing of restrictions undertaken to date are factored in.
“As we progress through stages, monitoring for triggers to indicate a need to slow down which would be an increase in cases in our surrounding regions, in surrounding NSW, or a significant decline in compliance and in the ability of people and businesses to implement physical distancing,” Dr Coleman said.
Canberra Liberals leader Alistair Coe welcomed the ACT Government adopting a tailored reopening of Canberra’s hospitality sector, as he suggested earlier this month, but said that approach should be applied more broadly.
“Canberra has the natural advantage to drive a targeted and tailored strategy to reopening our economy, across sectors. We know there is room for more flexibility than what has been announced today,” Mr Coe said.