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ACT relaxes COVID-19 rules as Canberra marks almost 90 days since last reported coronavirus case

ABC Health logo ABC Health 8/10/2020
a person sitting on a bench in a park: The four square metre social distancing rule for outdoor venues will be halved from tomorrow. (ABC News: Nick Haggarty) © Provided by ABC Health The four square metre social distancing rule for outdoor venues will be halved from tomorrow. (ABC News: Nick Haggarty)

If you feel your loved ones have been a little distant lately, now is a chance to rejoice: ACT Health is relaxing its four square metre rule, after the 89th day of no new recorded cases of COVID-19 in Canberra.

From 9:00am on Friday, the social distancing requirement will be halved to one person per two square metres of space when outdoors, allowing for restaurants, cafes and other entertainment venues to bring in more patrons.

Last week ACT Health announced Canberra would move to stage 3.2 restrictions from Friday in part because cases over the border had remained low.

"Over the past week, we have taken our time to thoroughly assess the public health risks. We are now happy for all venues to have one person per two square metres in outdoor spaces, up to a maximum gathering size of 200 people," Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said.

"Given our COVID-19 situation remains stable, I am confident we can increase the density of people outdoors, and do so in a safe manner with appropriate COVID safety plans in place."

The four square metre rule remains in place for indoor venues, but indoor stadiums, theatres and other venues will be able to fill seats to 50 per cent capacity.

Advice to keep 1.5 metres distance where possible also remains.

[ACT - coronavirus cases special]

King O'Malley's managing director Peter Barclay said he would be able to double the number of people using the bar's beer garden to 150.

He said it was a great step forward for the sector.

"The whole of the hospitality industry is happy to see the easing of restrictions," Mr Barclay said.

"It's going to help our industry enormously and we'll be able to have more guests at all our venues in a safe manner.

"Hopefully this is the turning point where we can get back to more normal."

Concern remains for recent NSW cases

Despite Dr Coleman's decision, she said people needed to continue to monitor themselves closely for symptoms, especially if they had recently left the ACT.

NSW today confirmed eight new locally acquired cases in the state.

The sources of those cases have been traced to Liverpool Hospital, Macquarie University, Ripples restaurant in Milsons Point and at least one other source under investigation.

Dr Coleman said Canberrans needed to consult the health websites of any state they had visited or intend to visit to see where recent cases had been detected.

"The advice on affected areas is changing regularly, so keep up to date with the latest advice," she said.

"Please be mindful and aware of how easily the virus spreads."

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