By Molly Taylor
MONDAY will bring major change for Limestone Coast residents as South Australia’s COVID-19 restrictions ease as the holiday season looms.
Premier Steven Marshall announced a swath of changes to the state’s restrictions from December 14, with large family Christmas celebrations on the cards as home gathering limits lift from 10 to 50 people, while private functions will go from 150 to 200.
Standing consumption will be allowed in licensed premises and entertainment venues (such as cinemas and theatres) will be able to operate at 75pc capacity if masks are worn indoors.
The news children’s play centres could reopen was welcomed by Mount Gambier’s Treehouse Adventure Centre owners David Walker and Stewart Owen, who have been involuntarily closed to the public for almost a month since the state’s “circuit-breaker” lockdown.
Mr Walker said although he was still frustrated the decision to allow indoor play centres to reopen had been left until now, he was excited and happy business operations could start to return back to normal.
“A lot of people were confused like us and couldn’t work out why we weren’t able to reopen while everyone else was able to,” he said.
“We will be opening in the first week of school holidays, so we will be going from nothing to madness.
“We have confirmation we will be returning to what it was like prior shutdown. The news was like Christmas all-in-one.”
The site has a maximum capacity of 600, but Mr Walker said there would be a limit less than that to easily maintain social distancing and other requirements.
“I hope the community will get behind us and show support again,” he said.
“It is a place of happiness here so we are looking forward to bringing that back next week.”
Mr Walker said it had been a rollercoaster of a year for him and staff just like many others, but he wanted to wish people a Merry Christmas and encouraged people to stay safe.
Among other restrictions to be eased during this week’s announcement include gym density requirements reduced from one per 4sqm to one per 2spm and up to 200 people will be allowed at weddings or funerals.
The State Government will cease its messaging on working from home and for wearing of face masks unless in high-risk or vulnerable areas and Mr Marshall said general wearing of face masks would be “free choice”.
Masks will remain mandatory in Allied Health, personal care services and residential care facilities until December 23.
Mount Gambier Mayor Lynette Martin commended the State Government for its decision to ease density restrictions, especially for the hospitality sector.
“It has been such a challenging year for business across all sectors as they try to recover economically from the impacts of COVID-19,” Mayor Martin said.
“I was pleased to see that on December 4, the restrictions were eased to one per 2spm for the hospitality sector.
“Considering this sector has been one of the hardest hit throughout the pandemic, I really hope that the easing of restrictions will assist these businesses particularly as we enter the festive season, a time when they rely on strong custom.”
Ms Martin also welcomed the removal of border restrictions between South Australia and Victoria earlier this month.
“It was also pleasing to see the opening of the Victorian Border on December 1, which provided a real economic boost for our business community just in time for the festive season,” she said.