Canberra’s coronavirus restrictions will ease on Friday despite the surge of cases in Victoria, with outdoor gatherings of up to 250 people to be allowed.
But Chief Minister Andrew Barr says it’s a more cautious approach than previously planned.
Pokies, casinos, strip clubs and brothels will all be able to open again from midday Friday, while nightclubs will be allowed to operate as bars.
Foodcourts will be allowed to reopen for dine-in customers while sporting events and entertainment venues with tiered seating can cater for up to 25 per cent of total capacity.
Bars, pubs and clubs will be able to serve alcohol to seated patrons, with no limit on group size.
Also given the green light will be saunas, steam rooms and bathhouses, while outdoor gatherings will be capped at 250 people.
The number of people allowed in a business will only be limited by the one-person-per-four-square-metres of available space rule.
But Mr Barr said the territory would not move to increase the density limit on venues to one person per two square metres for at least a month.
However small venues may be able to increase the number of customers they can cater to.
From Friday businesses will be able to host 25 patrons at a time, or one person per four square metres – whichever is greater.
Contact community sports like Australian rules and rugby will be able to start competitions from midday on Friday. Indoor community sporting venues with tiered seating should have no more than 25 per cent capacity for spectators, while outdoor community sporting events will be limited to 250 spectators.
Gyms that operate on a 24-hour basis will be able to have a maximum of 25 people in the facility at any one time when facilities are unstaffed.
Mr Barr said it was a cautious step in light of the events occurring in Melbourne.
“Following the introduction of border restrictions for people entering the ACT from Victoria and the metropolitan Melbourne lockdown, the health advice remains that the ACT can proceed with some minor changes outlined in stage three of the ACT’s easing of restrictions road map from midday on Friday,” he said.
“The unfolding situation in Victoria is a significant concern, and that’s why the ACT is taking a cautious approach with further easing of restrictions.
“The ACT will not be implementing a one-person-per-two-square-metres rule at this time given the heightened COVID risk.
“The ACT government has, throughout this pandemic, followed the advice from our public health experts.
“These are challenging circumstances, and while the recovery of our local economy is critically important, now is not the time to be putting all the hard work of the Canberra community at risk by moving too quickly.”
Mr Barr said the government would closely monitor the impact of the stage three changes, as as well as the effectiveness of the various Victorian restrictions, before considering any future easing of local restrictions.