Events back on as NSW announces ‘freedom day’

The NSW Government has announced a new series of changes to restrictions across the state bringing more good news for event planners ahead of Christmas.

Set to come into effect from Monday, capacity at all hospitality venues will effectively double under the new changes with the 2-square-metre rule to replace the 4-square metre rule.

Capacity for outdoor ticketed events will be lifted to 5,000 people, while stadiums and outdoor theatres will have a 100 per cent capacity. Indoor venues will be allowed to have up to 75 per capacity. Fifty people will be allowed on indoor dance floors, while standing outdoors will be allowed at hospitality venues.

“I’m pleased that because of that, we are in the strong position we are today and from Monday life will be very more different in NSW,” said Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet described the easing of restrictions as “freedom day”.

“In terms of economic activity you’re looking at hundreds of millions of dollars injected into the NSW activity every single month,” he said.

“It’s instant impact, this getting people straight back to work.”

The news was welcomed by the event and hospitality sectors.

BESydney CEO Lyn Lewis-Smith said it was “a fantastic outcome for business events in NSW”.

“This change is a major milestone in building business confidence to commit to restarting business events again,” she said.

“This year has been one of the most challenging for our industry to date. I’m thrilled to see this huge step being taken as we look forward to once again welcoming business visitors back to Sydney and NSW in the months ahead, to connect people, ideas and knowledge, and drive economic, social and educational benefit.

“We look forward to moving forward with confidence and building on the pipeline of events that we have already secured for our city and state, supported by our recently launched campaign, It’s got to be Sydney.”

Merivale boss Justin Hemmes called it an “absolute game-changer”, while Sydney Festival artistic director Wesley Enoch said the changes will mean more people will be able to enjoy the festival in 2021.

Australian Festival Association general manager Julia Robinson welcomed the news, but issued a word of caution saying the inability to get insurance for many festival organisers “may restrict business to take place as usual”.