For the first time since coronavirus restrictions were introduced in NSW, people will be allowed to leave their homes for recreation under a planned easing of the regulations.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the changes on Sunday to come into effect from Friday, a full week after Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed a three-stage plan to ease lockdown measures across Australia.
Currently, two adults from the same household, along with their dependent children, can visit another home in NSW under the existing COVID-19 restrictions.
The new relaxing of restrictions will allow up to five people visit a home, including children.
Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will also be allowed, such as a physical training session or sitting down in a park, Ms Berejiklian said on Sunday.
“For the first time since our lockdown what this means is that you can leave the home for recreational purposes,” she told reporters in Sydney.
Restaurants and cafes will also be allowed to have up to 10 patrons at a time, while ensuring they maintain social distancing of 1.5 metres between people and four square metres space per person.
For some very small venues, this may mean only two or three people are able to be inside, Ms Berejiklian said.
A total of 10 guests will be allowed at weddings, and up to 20 people at indoor funerals and up to 30 at outdoor funerals will be allowed.
Religious gatherings and places of worship can also welcome up to 10 worshippers.
Outdoor equipment including gyms and playgrounds can be used with caution, with people encouraged to wipe down the equipment, and outdoor pools are open with restrictions.
However, holidays in regional NSW are still banned.
“Please acknowledge the easing of these restrictions is a sign about how far we’ve come, but please also acknowledge that all of us need to maintain our vigilance – walk out the door assuming you have the virus or somebody else you’re coming into contact (with) does,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Coronavirus is as deadly, contagious, and virulent as it has always been, with the only difference between March and May being the far lower number of cases recorded, the premier said.
“The second any of us get too complacent means the virus will start winning again. At the moment the people of NSW are winning. We don’t want to change that balance,” she said.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the easing of restrictions would “give a degree of normality back”, but warned that this “could be quickly lost if … our community does not adhere to the message of the importance of continued social distancing”.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said people will still be urged to work from home where it works for both employer and employee.
The state recorded two new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, taking the state’s total to 3053, Dr Chant said.
About 105 cases are being treated by NSW Health with seven people in intensive care units.
With schools to resume some face-to-face learning from Monday, Ms Berejiklian said the best health advice is that schools are safe environments.
“There won’t be any penalty in place, if people are still concerned and want to keep their children at home that’s a matter for them but there’s no health advice that backs that,” she said.
Mr Hazzard says the best present people can give their mums when visiting on Mother’s Day is to keep them safe by maintaining social distance.
He implored people to take care when visiting their loved ones on Sunday during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
“Keep your mum safe,” the minister said on Saturday.
“When you go to visit your mum, do what we have asked you to, which is to keep that social distance.
“I know it’s really tough … to not be able to hug or kiss your mum but it would be the wisest course.”
Australian Associated Press