New South Wales Set to Ease Lockdown Restrictions

This Friday, cafés, restaurants, gyms, and pools will reopen with social-distancing measures in place.

Harbor ferries seen in front of the Sydney Opera House. (Photo: James Louie)

Australia’s most populous state will relax some social restrictions as it moves to Step One recovery measures from Friday, May 15. State premier Gladys Berejiklian has said that outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will be permissible, while households can host five visitors at any one time.

Cafés and restaurants will be able to resume dine-in services for up to 10 patrons, with at least four square meters allotted to each customer according to New South Wales’ own minimum space requirements. Playgrounds and outdoor gyms also have permission to reopen, along with outdoor swimming pools, although the capacity for the latter may be drastically reduced to just 10 swimmers.

Under Step One measures, weddings and religious gatherings can hold a maximum of 10 people in attendance. There will be a bit more leeway at funerals, with the number of mourners capped at 20 for indoor services and 30 for those held outdoors.

However, the state government will not be following the national cabinet’s advice to reopen libraries and community centers and allow regional travel for leisure. Beaches will remain off-limits for sunbathers and can be only used for exercise.

As of May 13, New South Wales has recorded a total of 3,059 cases of Covid-19—just under 44 percent of the national number—and 44 deaths. Since April 26, the daily count of newly confirmed infections in the state has fallen to single digits, with two days of zero new cases in the past week.

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