NSW eases virus rules to 50-person limit
Up to 50 people will be able to dine in restaurants, pubs and cafes from June 1 as the NSW government eases more COVID-19 restrictions.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Friday announced the "big and critical" step for the state, but said very strict rules would be in place for venues.
"The last thing we want to do is shut businesses down because they haven't complied," she told reporters in Sydney.
Venues will still have to allow at least four square metres of space per person.
Additionally, bookings of more than 10 people will be banned, and patrons won't be allowed to stand.
Currently, dining venues can only have a maximum of 10 patrons if they maintain social distancing. That includes alcohol table service with meals at NSW pubs and clubs.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro says relaxing restrictions will help boost regional businesses which have suffered through drought, bushfire and the pandemic.
"It's our happy hour - it's time to wine and dine," he said on Friday.
The increase in patronage aligns with the easing of regional travel restrictions across the state and the opening of museums, galleries and libraries from June 1.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet says the decision to allow 50 patrons for seated dining from June 1 will allow thousands more people to return to work.
"Going to 50 will give the opportunity for the majority of restaurants, the majority of bars across our state to open," he told reporters.
NSW earlier on Friday reported its 50th COVID-19 death after an 80-year-old woman died in Concord Hospital. Her death brings the national toll to 101.
Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant says the woman became infected after being exposed to the virus in an outpatient clinical setting.
There's no evidence of further transmission or ongoing risk at Concord Hospital, she added.
NSW on Friday had three new coronavirus cases from more than 8600 tests.
As the temperature begins to drop and winter starts, Dr Chant said it's particularly important for people to come forward to get tested and re-tested if symptoms return.
Meanwhile, ex-NSW arts minister Don Harwin is seeking legal advice to appeal a fine he received for breaching COVID-19 health orders.
The fine was imposed for travelling back and forth between his Elizabeth Bay flat in Sydney's east and his Pearl Beach holiday home on the Central Coast.
Mr Harwin in April resigned his portfolio after being fined $1000 by NSW Police for acting "in contravention of a current ministerial direction under the Public Health Act".
At the time, the Liberal MP argued he had relocated in mid-March before the health orders were made.
The premier on Friday separately confirmed her government was seeking a freeze on pay rises for MPs amid the pandemic which has battered the state's economy.
© AAP 2020