Theatres to increase audience numbers as restrictions ease in NSW
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Theatres to increase audience numbers as restrictions ease in NSW

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Live performances will return across NSW next week with theatres, cinemas and concert halls allowed to increase audience numbers to as many as 1000 as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.

With NSW reporting three consecutive days of zero community transmissions, the Premier's Major Events Taskforce wants entertainment and conference centres to significantly boost capacity.

Performing arts companies will be able to significantly boost capacity as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.

Performing arts companies will be able to significantly boost capacity as COVID-19 restrictions are eased. Credit:Dallas Kilponen

From October 1, theatres will be able to sell tickets for 50 per cent capacity of their venues up to 1000 people and corporate events will be able to host up to 300 people as long as all attendees are seated.

NSW Arts Minister Don Harwin said it was a major step towards recovery for the arts sector, as well as allowing audiences to "enjoy experiences we have all missed so much during the pandemic".

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"For workers across the full spectrum of the performing arts – from box office staff to ushers, from technicians and roadies to the artists – this change means more jobs," Mr Harwin said.

Jobs Minister Stuart Ayres said getting more people into entertainment venues and conference centres was key to re-starting the NSW visitor economy.

The government is also relaxing other restrictions, including allowing wedding parties back on the dance floor and more than one parent will be able to watch their children's weekend sports.

Ms Berejiklian said bridal parties of up to 20 will be allowed on the dance floor at weddings, where previously only the bride and groom were permitted.

The Premier also indicated that she wanted "a toned down" Sydney fireworks to go ahead at midnight on New Year's Eve, despite opposition from Deputy Premier John Barilaro.

Mr Barilaro earlier this month told the Herald that the Sydney event should be cancelled given regional events such as the Tamworth Music Festival had to be axed due to COVID-19.

Several restrictions on schools will also be eased next term, and parents will also have more freedom to watch their children play school sport.

Choirs will be allowed for five students and music ensembles will return with unlimited numbers of students as long as players keep a 1.5 metre distance from one another, or three metres for musicians of non-reeded woodwind instruments.

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Parents will be able to return to volunteering for activities in schools, including reading groups and garden programs, and Year 6 formals and celebrations, school assemblies and presentation days are expected to go ahead at the end of term four.

School camps and excursions will be allowed as long as the venues have COVID-safe plans.

Orientation and transition programs will also go ahead for kindergarten and year 7 students starting in 2021.

The government will open inter-school and zone sports competitions, with parents allowed to attend community sports venues as long as they can maintain social distancing.

"The only restriction that will remain is that we will not be able to have parents at school sites for school sport when a school day is on," Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said.

Despite the changes to theatres and corporate events, existing rules around religious services, weddings and funerals will remain the same, with numbers restricted to 300 people.

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