On Tuesday, the NSW Government announced the first stage in its wind-back of social-distancing restrictions. From today, May 1, up to two adults (and any dependent children) are allowed to visit another household. Until now, NSW residents have only been allowed to leave the house for essential purposes such as work, outdoor exercise, food shopping and medical treatment. Gatherings of more than two people (who don’t live in the same household) have been kiboshed, with fines issued to those not following social-distancing measures.
“We know that for many people, they’ve been cooped up in their homes for a number of weeks, and with the exception of exercising, medical needs or buying what they need to or going to work, many people have been isolated in their homes,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Tuesday.
The government has since explained that any two-person visits must be for “care reasons” – but it counts mental health, including socialising, under this banner. There will be no limit on how many visitors a household can have on any day, as long as there are only two guests at a time; they do not need to be related. If either of those two people have children, they are allowed to visit as well.
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Guests are allowed to travel to visit people and may stay overnight. City residents cannot travel to regional NSW and stay there if they are not visiting another household – so no camping or rental holidays. “We trust everybody to do it responsibly. Don’t take risks,” the premier said.
Social-distancing measures, such as keeping 1.5 metres from others at all times and avoiding physical contact, should still be observed during home visits. The government is also encouraging people to keep to outdoor areas such as backyards and balconies during visits to reduce the spread.
The premier acknowledged that we are likely to see a spike of coronavirus cases in May due to the increased activity but says the NSW health system will be able to cope: “We’ve used this time during April to build up the capacity, get the extra PPE and make sure that we’re ready.”
If you’re visiting someone over the age of 70, you must practice strict social distancing. “If you have the mildest sniffle, do not go and visit anybody. If you’re feeling slightly unwell or fatigued, don’t risk it. I’m absolutely confident that people will be responsible, because there’s too much at stake,” said Berejiklian.
A two-person limit on public gatherings is still in place, and restaurants, pubs and bars remain closed except for takeaway.
See the full list of restrictions here.