‘Freedom day’: Massive changes ahead as NSW winds back virus rules

There will be more room for diners at NSW restaurants from Monday.

There will be more room for diners at NSW restaurants from Monday.

The NSW government has announced a sweeping set of changes to state COVID-19 restrictions, which come into effect from next Monday.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Wednesday the timing was right to ease restrictions and replace the 4-square-metre rule with the 2-square-metre rule, except for at gyms and nightclubs.

“We’re deeply grateful that since the beginning of the pandemic, the community has taken our advice… [and] has really led the way throughout the nation and we want that to continue,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“I’m pleased that because of that, we are in strong position we are today and from Monday life will be very more different in NSW.”

“Life will be different” from Monday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian promised.

The easing of restrictions means capacity at restaurants, bars, churches and cafes will double from December 7.

Other restrictions that came into effect when the state went into lockdown will also be abolished ahead of the summer holidays.

From Monday, the following will change:

  • Standing outdoors will be allowed at hospitality venues, but not indoors;
  • Fifty people will be allowed on indoor dance floors;
  • Up to 5,000 people will be allowed to attend outdoor ticketed events;
  • There will be no upper cap on the number of people allowed to attend weddings and funerals;
  • Outdoor gatherings such as picnics will have their cap raised from 50 to 100 people;
  • Stadiums and outdoor theatres will have a 100 per cent capacity;
  • Indoor theatres will be allowed to have up to 75 per capacity.

Ms Berejiklian said despite upper caps being removed at weddings and other events, people would still be expected to adhere to social distancing.

The announcements come as NSW recorded its 25th consecutive day without any locally acquired COVID-19 cases.

But NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the easing of restrictions on Monday – which he labelled “freedom day” – was an economic decision, as well as one based on health advice.

“In terms of economic activity, you’re looking at hundreds of millions of dollars injected into the NSW activity every single month,” he said.

“The pubs have told us that today’s announcement is 9,000 new jobs right across our state.

“It’s instant impact, this getting people straight back to work.”

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