Christmas parties, functions and lunches in NSW will be a little more convivial after the state government eased restrictions on outdoor gatherings and hospitality group bookings.
From Friday up to 30 people will be permitted to gather outdoors, up from 20, while group bookings of up to 30 people, up from ten, can now be made at restaurants and pubs.
The number of guests allowed at weddings from December will be lifted to 300, provided they are seated, and dancing remains strictly confined to the bridal party.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday said she hoped the changes would give the hospitality industry “as much information as possible” in the lead up to Christmas.
She also suggested it may be safer to hold Christmas parties or gatherings at COVID-safe venues such as restaurants, rather than in the confines of homes where the 20-person limit remains.
“We’re trying to make things as free as possible for our citizens but it’s really important to maintain that level of COVID safety,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters.
“Until the end of the pandemic, none of us can have a normal life.
“But what we can do is make sure we maintain COVID safety and (that) within the rules we have as good a time, as free a time, as possible.”
The past weekend ushered in eased restrictions for NSW outdoor venues, with up to 500 people allowed to attend open-air concerts so long as they stay seated.
Limits on outdoor dining were also relaxed, allowing one patron per two square metres, with venues obliged to use an electronic QR code to record contact details.
It comes as NSW in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday recorded no new locally-acquired cases of COVID-19 and four cases in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
However, the case total came from just under 7000 tests – prompting NSW health authorities to again urge anyone with respiratory symptoms to get tested.
“If you have the most minimal of symptoms, please come forward and get a test … this is critical,” NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant told reporters.
“We know we can ease restrictions and have more confidence in easing restrictions if we achieve very low or no levels of community transmission, and everyone has a part to play.”
Authorities nevertheless continue to keep a close eye on a coronavirus cluster in the southwest Sydney suburb of Oran Park, which currently numbers 19 people.
All staff and children who attended the Great Beginnings childcare centre in Oran Park between October 2 and Tuesday have been told to get tested and self-isolate for a fortnight, and the facility will remain closed until at least October 28.
Those who attended the Gregory Hills Hotel in Gregory Hills, The 1500 United Cinema in Narellan, Shellharbour South Beach and Little Park, and Woolworths Oran Park at various times between October 9 and October 12 are considered casual contacts of virus cases.
NSW Police, meanwhile, said in a statement on Monday they had issued 20 fines for breaching coronavirus-related restrictions over the weekend. These included a crowd of more than 1000 at a Ballina sports match and a party of more than 100 near Lake Macquarie.