Prime Minister Scott Morrison has acknowledged that a capacity of one person per four square-metres (sqm) is too tough on the country’s smaller venues, and has said smaller venues will be able to operate with a new two-sqm rule.
Currently Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania are operating under the two-sqm rule, while there are no restrictions in the Northern Territory. However the PM said it remains the decision of individual territory and state governments to apply the two-sqm rule for venues with a COVID-safe plan in place.
Speaking at the end of last week, the PM said: “all states committed to continue on with the various plans that they have and they’re making those announcements.
“Today we also agreed, and noted the advice of the Medical Expert Panel, that the two-square metre rule can be moved to for smaller premises. Smaller premises will be determined by the jurisdiction but, as a rule of thumb, that’s around about 100 square metres.
“So that means for much smaller premises that would have otherwise been trying to stick to a four-square metre rule arrangement, this just gives them a bit more room for them to be taking more patrons.
“That had been considered by the AHPPC and so where jurisdictions choose to do that, it is up to them to make those decisions. In Tasmania and Western Australia they’ve already moved to that two-square metre arrangement, so other states will be free to consider that.
“Previously there had been a more formal rule around four-square metres and I think it just shows the flexibility that is now being able to be built into the response, based on the experience that everybody is having and is being shared.”
The Prime Minister also emphasised that as restrictions are lifted, there is still no scope for complacency and that operators need to keep records of customers.
“The key things that the expert advice has been focusing on is the ability to know who’s there, where they are when they’re there and who they’re coming in contact with and how those social distancing measures are being practised.
“And so as time goes on, we’re finding that states and territories, as well as operators, are finding more innovative ways to respect the social distancing and conduct their business.”