A special committee will decide whether events for 500 people or more can go ahead in Canberra after ACT Health flagged new COVID-safe protocols for larger events in the warmer months.
The capital passed its biggest test in six months when the ACT Brumbies and Canberra Raiders hosted crowds of 6000 people at Canberra Stadium last weekend.
The new protocols could allow for further increases, potentially as early as next week for a Raiders finals match at home.
Some larger events have already cancelled their summer plans, while Summernats organisers are hopeful they will be able to go ahead next year with coronavirus protocols in place.
Summernats managing director Andy Lopez welcomed the tiered announcement, which will be overseen by the chief health officer and an exemptions panel.
“It’s good to see the guidelines have come out and we appreciate that health and government agencies have put the work in to get the guidelines ready and start a framework for large events,” Mr Lopez said said.
All event organisers would need a COVID-safe plan, regardless of the size of the event.
“The new protocol outlines how public community events for more than 100 people at public venues can be held while COVID-19 restrictions remain in place and how to see the necessary exemptions,” the ACT Health spokesman said.
“The ACT government is supporting the process of returning events to the ACT in a COVID-safe way.
“This reflects the continued good position which Canberra is experiencing, with more than 10 weeks since our last diagnosed case of COVID-19.”
While large events with more than 100 people are not permitted under the ACT’s recovery plan, the government said it was considering exemptions to larger events when certain criteria to manage the risk of coronavirus could be met.
Any event with more than 100 people in attendance would need to get an exemption from the ACT’s chief health officer to go ahead. As part of the new protocols, three risk levels have been outlined.
Class A events would cover low-risk events of up to 100 people.
While those do not require an exemption to get the green light, one would be issued only if there is an aspect of the event that does not comply with current public health directions.
Class B would cover mid-level risk events of between 101 and 500 people. This would require a sign-off from the chief health officer.
The third tier, class C, would cover high-risk events of 500 people or more. Those events would need to be considered by a special committee, which would provide a recommendation to the chief health officer.
“The new protocol outlines how public community events for more than 100 people at public venues can be held while COVID-19 restrictions remain in place and how to see the necessary exemptions,” the spokesman said.
Health officials have urged for private events such as house parties to comply with existing restrictions and limit attendance to 100 people.
Exemptions can be sought for private events in exceptional circumstances.