Coronavirus: Groups of 10 allowed ahead of Mother’s Day | The Canberra Times

coronavirus, coronavirus, covid-19, coronavirus restrictions

While many Canberrans were preparing for a Mother’s Day confined to the household, the relaxation on group gatherings has made way for families to celebrate the day together. The Steele family’s annual brunch was expected to be put on hold this year but the timely easing of restrictions allowing groups of 10 people to gather indoors and outdoors from Saturday will allow for a particularly special year. “My mum will be very pleased,” Beth Steele said. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced the changes to restrictions on Friday, following the Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlining the three staged plan state and territory leaders would be guided by. The new rule was welcomed by Mrs Steele’s family of four, who will join her two sisters and mum on Sunday for a much-needed family gathering, particularly for Mrs Steele’s two kids, one-year-old Sadie and four-year-old Angus. “For about five weeks everyone was cut off,” she said. “The main thing for the (kids) has been not being able to see their grandma, and also not being able to go to the playground. “They’ve still been at daycare three days a week, so they’ve still had that away from home time to balance it.” Mr Barr flagged further announcements for next week, but said he would give businesses time to react. Under stage one of the national plan restaurants and cafes would be allowed to have up to 10 customers dine-in, however, that rule has not yet been introduced in the ACT. Restaurant owner Tony Lo Terzo said it would take at least two days to prepare his Braddon store to reopen for customers. The Italian Place has been doing a roaring trade selling fresh pasta, homemade sauces and deli items, since being restricted to takeaway. Mr Lo Terzo said while it “wasn’t commercially viable” to run a restaurant with 10 people, he would welcome a staggered return to normality and would maintain his deli trade. “We see a lot of our regulars who come in basically daily … my communication from them is that they can’t wait to sit down and have a meal here,” he said. “Ten won’t be sufficient to begin with, but we can do two seatings, six to eight, then 8pm onwards.” While intimate dining affairs could be possible in the foreseeable future, Canberrans won’t be able to experience the bustling atmosphere of many restaurants for some time yet. Akiba’s Pete Harrington said his venue, which typically serves 500 people a night, couldn’t justify reopening to dine-in customers until groups of 100 people or more were allowed. This would be under stage 3 of the plan, with groups of up to 20 allowed in stage 2. Mr Harrington was concerned a slow and staged approach to return to normal would “dilute” parts of the hospitality industry and risk turning people away from the beloved social event. READ MORE: “Hospitality is not just sitting down and having food and a drink,” he said. “It’s a whole experience of being connected to other people, to have atmosphere in a bar, to be on the dance floor, to be queueing up. “If you sterilise that social event … people could become accustomed to enjoying the social aspect of their life in their homes rather than coming to these … diluted environments.” Since being required to do takeaway and delivery only, Mr Harrington said Akiba food sales had increased 30 per cent. He would rather restrictions remain in place, until “all the embers of COVID-19 have burnt out” allowing a return to large hospitality venues such as big restaurants, bars and clubs to look a little closer to normal. He said the slow trickle of returning customers could result in a “slower, uglier death” of the industry. “All restaurants have very slim margins. If your fixed costs are the same but you’re not allowed to do the same revenue, if people haven’t done their calculations carefully, it’s a slippery slope,” he said.

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