9 November 2021

Dance floors are back and masks are off: 95 per cent vax rate means more restrictions will ease

| Lottie Twyford
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John Curtin and Ben Chifley statues in Parkes

From Friday, masks will only be required in high-risk settings and capacity limits will be eased. Photo: David Murtagh.

From Friday, Canberrans can take off their masks in most settings, dancefloors are back, nightclubs will open and there will no longer be any limit on visitors to a home.

Given the ACT’s world-leading vaccination rates – more than 95 per cent of the eligible 12-plus population is now fully vaccinated – the next easing of restrictions has been brought forward to 11:59 pm on Thursday, 11 November 2021.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith confirmed this morning (9 November) a major tranche of the remaining restrictions will be eased, including no more limits on home visits or informal outdoor gatherings, masks will only be required in high-risk settings and nightclubs can open.

In a joint statement, Mr Barr and Ms Stephen-Smith confirmed more than 370,000 Canberrans are now fully vaccinated.

Masks will only be required in high-risk settings such as hospitals and aged care facilities, on public transport, and in schools and some businesses settings.

People are encouraged to continue wearing face masks, though. Correctional facilities, the airport, and after-school hours care will be some of the other settings requiring a mask for anyone aged 12-years and above.

Indoor and outdoor entertainment venues with fixed seating will be able to host events at 100 per cent seated capacity.

Restrictions on cinemas and swimming pools will be relaxed.

Organised sport can recommence with one person per two square metres in indoor settings. This will become the default limit across most indoor settings and industries, including hospitality and retail.

No density limits will apply in outdoor spaces for most activities and events will be able to have more people before requiring an exemption.

Drinking while standing will be permitted at licenced venues, cafes and restaurants, and nightclubs will be able to reopen, with dancing again allowed.

Ms Stephen-Smith and Mr Barr said the remaining baseline measures, such as masks in high-risk settings, are anticipated to remain in place over the Christmas period before being reviewed in late January 2022.

Travel exemption requirements will stay in place for designated, high-risk geographical areas across the country. The existing high-risk geographical areas will be reviewed this week, with any changes to come into effect from 12 November.

Canberrans are still urged to stay at home if they are unwell and to get tested for COVID-19.

READ ALSO ACT’s 95 per cent vaccination rate is only temporary without timely boosters for all

The announcement on the easing of restrictions comes as 12 schools have recorded COVID-19 infections in the past few weeks.

Canberra Girls Grammar School, St Clare’s College, Namadgi School, St Anthony’s Parish Primary School, Gordon Primary School, Wanniassa School (Junior and Senior campuses), Ainslie School, Melrose High School, Orana Steiner School, Erindale College and Holy Family School have all been impacted by positive cases.

There are now 43 cases associated with the initial Wanniassa School (Junior Campus) cluster.

Yesterday, Minister for Education Yvette Berry could not confirm how many positive cases were now associated with each school, only that transmission had occurred on-campus at Wanniassa School.

New casual and close exposure sites have also been consistently added to the government’s exposure site list in recent days. These include gyms, hairdressers and a martial arts facility in Canberra’s south.

See the COVID-19 website for more information and details about times of exposure.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr, Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith and ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman will provide an update on the COVID-19 situation in the ACT this afternoon.

Original Article published by Lottie Twyford on The RiotACT.

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