Masks off, dancing's back: ACT moves to baseline COVID-19 restrictions from Friday

Canberrans will be able to remove their masks in most settings and dance the night away from Friday, with health authorities moving to relax restrictions after the city reached a world-leading 95 per cent coronavirus vaccination rate.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith confirmed on Tuesday morning the next stage of easing would be brought forward by two weeks, with the city set to move to baseline-level restrictions expected to be in place across the summer period.

The new restrictions would be reviewed in late January 2022, the pair said.

From 11.59pm on Thursday there will be no limits on home visits or informal outdoor gatherings, and density limits will be relaxed to allow one person for every 2 square metres in most indoor environments, including hospitality and retail.

Indoor and outdoor venues with fixed seating will be able to run events at full seated capacity.

Nightclubs will be able to reopen and dancing will return, while patrons will be able to drink while standing at licenced venues, cafes and restaurants.

Density limits will be removed for outdoor activities, and organised outdoor events will be able to have larger crowds before needing an exemption.

The ACT will move to baseline COVID-19 restrictions from Friday for the summer period, with masks required in only high-risk settings. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

The ACT will move to baseline COVID-19 restrictions from Friday for the summer period, with masks required in only high-risk settings. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Organised sport will return with one person for every 2 square metres in indoor settings, and restrictions on cinemas and swimming pools will be relaxed.

Face masks will still be required in high-risk settings, including hospitals, aged-care facilities, public transport and schools, along with some businesses.

Mr Barr and Ms Stephen-Smith encouraged Canberrans to continue wearing face masks indoors in crowded settings as a simple and practical to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

"Canberrans now have a lot to look forward to in our city over the summer months as we enter this new phase of our pandemic response," the pair said in a joint statement.

"But the pandemic isn't over and we still need to look out for each other. Stay at home if you are feeling unwell and get tested if you have any COVID symptoms."

MORE COVID-19 NEWS:

High-risk geographical areas in other parts of Australia will still be designated by the ACT to manage the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks, and travel exemptions will still be required. The current designated high-risk areas will be reviewed this week, with changes to come into effect from Friday.

The ACT's emergency cabinet met with chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman on Monday afternoon to sign off on the changes to restrictions, which were originally slated for November 26.

Dr Coleman is expected to provide an overview of the COVID-19 situation later on Tuesday.

The ACT has reported consistently low fresh infections of COVID-19 in the last fortnight, but health authorities are working to manage cases in Canberra's schools. The number of cases is expected to rise as restrictions are further eased.

Education Minister Yvette Berry on Monday said the government did not intend to order a city-wide school closure in response to people with COVID-19 attending schools, but parents and students needed to be vigilant in monitoring for potential symptoms of the virus.

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This story Masks off, dancing's back: ACT moves to baseline restrictions from Friday first appeared on The Canberra Times.