Major changes to NSW COVID rules
Small hospitality venues are set to get a reprieve from strict density rules, with the government set to announce they will operating under a "one person per two square metres" from December 1.
The state government is also moving to get more workers back into the office, foreshadowing a significant change to public health orders which will repeal a direction forcing employees to allow staff to work from home where reasonably practical.
Under the changes expected to be given the green light on Wednesday, venues up to 200 sqm in size will operate under the under the 2 sqm rule inside, up to a maximum of 50 guests.
The move comes after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced similar rules for small venues on Sunday.
Staff at venues will not count towards the maximum limit.
The impending change comes after increasing lobbying from cafes, restaurants, and hospitality heavyweights, calling for patron numbers to increase.
Restaurant and Catering Association boss Wes Lambert said that members believe doubling moving to a 2 sqm rule indoors would "double their dine-in revenue virtually overnight", and Chef and restaurant owner Luke Mangan has said venues could earn up to $10,000 extra a week under increased capacity.
However, increasing the capacity of venues up to 200 sqm in size for up to 50 people is likely to disappoint larger venues looking to boost their income.
Rules will also be relaxed for large families looking to have people over for Christmas: from next Tuesday, up to 30 people will be allowed to visit a household.
Outdoor gatherings in public spaces will be increased to 50 people under the rules expected to be agreed to today.
"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," Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
From December 14, public health orders requiring employers to allow staff to work from home where reasonably practical will also be scrapped. in a bid to get more people back into the city. Workplaces will be encouraged to have COVID-safe plans.
Hotel Palisade staff member Lauren Ferguson yesterday said changing to the 2 sqm rule would be "a nice little reward for venues" who have done the right thing.
"It's just in time for our New Year's Eve soiree," she said.
Valerio Domenici, who runs a 40 sqm cafe in Artarmon, is also set to benefit from the change. Under a 2 sqm rule he could double the number of patrons in Zucchero Cafe and Bar.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said there is still no room for complacency.
"It's important we work together to keep the community safe; so where possible gather together outdoors," he said.
Originally published as Major changes to NSW COVID rules