‘An absolute game-changer’: Relaxed restrictions get more Sydneysiders back to work

‘An absolute game-changer’: Relaxed restrictions get more Sydneysiders back to work

As businesses across NSW adjust to eased COVID restrictions from Monday, pubs and restaurants emerge as the biggest winners.

“This is an absolute game-changer for hospitality venues, and a huge step forward in our continued march towards recovery,” said Justin Hemmes, chief executive of the Merivale Group, which operates more than 70 venues. "These changes will result in an immediate and substantial increase in employment and an enormous boon for business viability, while still keeping customers and staff safe."

Bartender Monique Iturra at Coogee Pavilion on Sunday.Credit:James Alcock

The reduced restrictions will see capacity caps removed on bookings at venues, subject to the one person per two square metre rule, as well as at weddings, funerals, regional agricultural shows, corporate events and religious services.

The one person per 4sqm rule will still apply to gyms and nightclub dance floors, where no more than 50 people will be allowed at the same time.

Other changes outlined in the rollback include a return to full stadiums, and theatres being able to utilise 75 per cent of their capacity.

Mr Hemmes' optimism is echoed by those returning to work, too, said Monique Iturra, who works at the Coogee Pavilion.

"I'm really proud to work in hospitality and feel so grateful to be back behind the bar," she said. "Now, so many more of my friends in the industry can return to work and do what they love again too."

But there is still work to be done, said Mr Hemmes, emphasising the role that venues like his — along with their patrons — have in ensuring safety is prioritised so restrictions can continue to ease.

“The key to continuing our excellent progress is rigorous adherence to QR code venue check-in and COVID-plan compliance," he said. "Venues are doing everything they can to open, re-employ staff and keep their customers safe, but it is up to all of us to do the right thing.”

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said new restrictions would offer businesses an opportunity to create jobs, while making a substantial impact on the economy.

“This change will make a big difference to many businesses and will provide a real boost for jobs particularly in the service industry which has been hit hard over the past nine months.”

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