As of 9 April 2021
From 9am on Wednesday 14 April 2021, there will be some minor changes to the ACT COVID-normal public health measures, which currently apply to restricted businesses.
Venue capacity changes
- Cinemas and Movie Theatres can sell seated tickets at 100% capacity of each individual cinema or movie theatre (excluding any staff on premises) subject to having an endorsed COVID Safety Plan.
- Cinemas and Movie Theatres who have already submitted their COVID Safety Planfor endorsement by the ACT Chief Health Officer do not need to resubmit their plan, unless there have been significant changes made since last endorsed.
- All Theatre-Style Venues (with forward facing, fixed and tiered seating) can have events up to 100% capacity, subject to updated COVID Safety Plansbeing endorsed by the ACT Chief Health Officer. Density to remain at 75% until a COVID Safety Plan has been endorsed.
- Where more than one performance is being held in the venue, COVID Safety Plansmust ensure start, finish and interval times are staggered and appropriate cleaning is undertaken, particularly of shared lobby and bathroom spaces.
- At all venues, queues and crowding should be carefully managed and patrons should be encouraged to follow COVID Safe practices.
- For Live music venues, the COVID Safe Event Protocolwill be updated to provide advice to venues on how to safely host live music events, and to seek an exemption for larger audiences.
What stays the same
All other COVID Normal restrictions remain in place, in particular:
- No limit on household gatherings.
- Businesses can have up to 25 people across the venue. If businesses want to have more than 25 people, they can use the one person per two square metres of usable space rule.
- Unless otherwise provided for in the Public Health Direction, gatherings and events over 1,000 people need an exemption from ACT Health.
- Enclosed outdoor venues with permanent tiered seating and grandstands can have 100% capacity for fixed seating, provided events are ticketed and seated and a COVID Safety Planis in place for each event. Density for any unfixed seating areas should be calculated using the one person per two square metre rule, up to 1,000 people.
- Outdoor sporting activities and swimming pools can use one person per two square metre of usable space in indoor and outdoor spaces, up to 1,000 people across the site at any one time.
- Patrons can stand while eating and drinking in indoor and outdoor areas.
- All restricted businesses must have a COVID Safety Planin place, which is reviewed regularly.
- For further industry-specific information on restrictions currently in effect, refer to the Business and Work section.
Check In CBR mandatory for all restricted business activities
- All restricted businesses, venues and facilities under the public health direction must register for and use the Check In CBR appto collect contact details of anyone aged 16 years and older and on the premises for more than 15 minutes.
- All people at the business including staff and patrons should use the Check In CBR app.
*A list of Restricted activities, gatherings, business or undertaking as defined by the public health direction can be found here.
The ACT’s stage one economic survival package, injecting $137 million into the local economy, includes rebates of $150 on residential rates to help ease cashflow pressures for Canberra households, as well as a freeze on a number of ACT Government fees and charges, including the fire and emergency services levy, public transport, vehicle registration and parking fees.
The Government will provide all appropriate resources to support ACT public health services to continue providing essential health services to the community and to respond to the additional demands of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes funding for respiratory assessment clinics, an increase in inpatient beds and ICU capacity across the Territory, maintenance of COVID-19 testing capacity and the purchase of additional medical equipment and supplies.
The health funding will also involve working with Winnunga Nimmityjah to enable the service to provide a respiratory assessment service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans.
The package includes a number of measures to support small to medium businesses as they adjust to social distancing requirements and an expected downturn in our local economy. A rebate on the fixed charge for 2019-20 on commercial rates for properties with an AUV below $2 million will be provided, which particularly targets businesses who own their own premises.
For those businesses who lease premises, th Government have targeted other more direct assistance measures. For example, there will be a six month waiver on payroll tax for hospitality, creative arts and entertainment industries, the waiving of fees for food business registration and liquor licencing fees (excluding off-license) and outdoor dining fees and a $750 rebate for small business owners to help with power bills.
The Govenrment will also provide access to interest free deferrals of payroll tax commencing 1 July 2020 for all businesses up to a payroll threshold of $10 million to significantly ease the cashflow pressures for medium sized businesses. Small businesses are already exempt from payroll tax thanks to the highest tax free threshold ($2m) in Australia. This initiative is anticipated to free up to an additional $100 million of businesses’ money when they need it most.
A business liaison team will assist local businesses with these measures.
The Government will provide an additional payment of $1.5 million, as well as freeing up the existing $1.8 million in the Clubs Diversification Fund, to support our clubs to keep staff employed on the clubs award rate. Immediate consultation will start directly with community clubs to investigate further ways the Government can help them keep as many Canberrans employed as possible as they re-adjust to social distancing requirements.
The Government has focused on how it can deliver targeted support for low-income households who are likely to be most impacted from any economic downturn. As a starting point, the ACT Government will provide rental support of $250 for all public housing tenants in the coming months, as well as a one-off rebate for residential utility concession holders of $200 to help with power bills. More work will be required in the coming months alongside any stimulus offered by the Commonwealth Government on income support.
Keeping Canberrans employed through infrastructure projects is another component of the ACT’s economic survival package, with $20 million to be immediately spent on infrastructure projects and maintenance on local schools, roads, and public transport.
The Government will provide more funding for the removal of dead trees, planting of new trees and maintenance of surrounding areas to redeploy existing government contractors impacted by event cancellations.
Additionally, there will be a new $500,000 round of grants funding for the arts sector.
Additional funding of $7 million for non-government organisation partners to meet increased service demand for emergency relief will also be rolled out as part of the Community Support package.
The Government is re-prioritising funding to provide Lifeline ACT with an additional $100,000 to bolster services following a recent spike in calls , supporting the mental health of Canberrans who may be struggling.
ACT Government agencies have been instructed to prioritise the processing of development applications. Ten more staff have been added into the DA assessment team in addition to the ACT Government’s investment in new front line staff to process applications in the 2019-20 Budget. The ACT now have the lowest number of active DAs since December 2016, and want this trend to continue.
The ACT Government will also look to provide support by expediting the payment of bills to further provide cashflow support for small to medium businesses. The Government has committed to its' own casual workforce through continued employment and appropriate access to COVID-19 leave where required.
This is a once in a century economic shock, and no level of Federal or ACT Government stimulus will be able to fully offset the impacts of this global crisis. National and Territory income will fall. Stimulus efforts over the next 12-18 months will reduce the impact and support the eventual recovery, but the short term economic situation is grim.
The ACT Budget later this year and the 2020-21 Budget review will be further opportunities for the ACT Government to provide further phases of economic support. Additional measures will continue to be announced as the Government engages with various sectors over the coming weeks.