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Canberra
Saturday, December 5, 2020
Ian Cubitts
Ian Cubitts

Larger gatherings, standing outdoors to kick in next Friday as ACT restrictions ease

500-person gatherings and standing up outdoors to consume beverages and food at venues will be allowed in the ACT from next Friday, as local COVID restrictions continue to ease.

From 9am on Friday 13 November all gatherings can increase to a maximum of 500 people, while a gathering greater than 500 would require a special exemption consistent with COVID safe protocols.

In addition, the requirement for patrons to be seated while eating and drinking will be relaxed for outdoor spaces.

“This reflects evidence that outdoor spaces represent a much lower risk of transmission of COVID-19 as compared with indoor spaces,” Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.

ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman explained that outdoor spaces pose a lower risk of transmission of COVID-19 compared to indoor spaces, due to outdoor spaces generally having better ventilation and the circulation of fresh air compared to indoor spaces.

“With end of year celebrations and the warmer weather approaching we do encourage the community to get out and about and experience the great outdoors as long as we continue to practice our COVID safe behaviours,” she said.

The current rules for smaller venues and density measures will still apply.

Another formal health checkpoint will take place later this month on 27 November, two weeks after this easing of ACT restrictions is implemented.

Dr Coleman said she expects the 50% capacity for large sporting events to remain in place for Canberra’s upcoming domestic and international cricket season but wouldn’t “rule anything out” at the next checkpoint.

Both Mr Barr and Dr Coleman both took the opportunity at this morning’s press conference to encourage more use of the Check-in Canberra smartphone contact tracing app.

At the moment, more than 32,000 Canberrans have downloaded the app while around 1,700 venues across the city have registered.

The app retains contact data for 28 days for the purposes of contact tracing by ACT health

“We would like to see more people and more venues utilise this app,” Mr Barr said.

“From a venues perspective it is a very straightforward way to move away from having pen and paper to collect names and contact numbers.”

Dr Coleman said ensuring high participation of checking in at venues is an important part of further easing of restrictions moving forward.

Prior to the next check point she will monitor whether to move to mandatory electronic check in as is the case in NSW as opposed to just “strongly recommended” as it currently stands in the ACT.

As was announced earlier this week, from 23 November restrictions requiring Victorians entering the ACT from Victoria to quarantine when they seek to come to the ACT are proposed to be removed in line with the NSW-Victoria border reopening as announced by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

As of today, 209 people are quarantining in the ACT, a combination of people from Victoria, diplomats and government officials returning from overseas.

For more information, visit the ACT Government’s COVID-19 website.