A swathe of restrictions introduced in NSW to protect the community from the spread of COVID-19 will be eased next week as the festive season gets underway.
The number of visitors allowed in homes will increase from 20 to 30 while cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs will be allowed to double their capacity with one person allowed per two square metres.
As well up to 50 people, up from 30, will be allowed to gather outdoors and 50 patrons will be allowed in small hospitality venues up to 200 square metres from December 1.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian foreshadowed the changes ahead of a meeting of her government’s crisis cabinet on Wednesday morning, telling Sydney media outlets the community had “done an incredible job this year under trying circumstances”.
“I hope these changes provide a boost to the hospitality industry and give people certainty in how they can celebrate safely with family, friends and colleagues over the Christmas and New Year period,” she said.
And from December 14 public health orders requiring employers to allow staff to work from home will end with the government keen to get workers back to the Sydney CBD.
The changes come a day after Queensland announced it would open its border to Sydney from Tuesday.
Qantas and Jetstar plan to operate an additional 1200 return flights to Queensland from NSW and Victoria in the lead-up to Christmas.
Virgin Australia says Queensland’s decision to reopen the border to all of NSW will help the airline and tourism industry to get back on its feet and put more people back to work.
NSW has now gone 17 days without a single case of locally acquired cases of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, NSW Health has discovered COVID-19 virus fragments in sewage at the Liverpool sewage treatment plant in western Sydney, prompting renewed calls for residents to get tested.
The detection of the virus could reflect the presence of known cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in recent weeks in the area.
But NSW Health is concerned there could be other active cases in people who have not been tested and who might incorrectly assume their symptoms are “just a cold”.