Local hospitality venues will benefit from an easing of COVID-19 restrictions leading up to the busiest time of the year for businesses.

The NSW government recently announced relaxed restrictions that would benefit pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants.

One of the changes included venues being able to take group bookings of up to 30 people.

The previous number was set at 10 while outdoor spaces will now be allowed one person per two square metres, a reduction from the earlier four-square metre rule.

One person per four-square metres still applies to indoor spaces while social distancing measures will remain in place.

Venue manager of the Tourist Hotel, Geoff Artis, said the news was timely ahead of the busiest time of the year for pubs and clubs.

“It definitely helps us with 30 people, and now we can actually hold little Christmas parties and small staff parties,” Mr Artis said.

“We’re already taking bookings now for December and we’re almost fully booked for December on Fridays and Saturdays.

“This especially is great ahead of the Melbourne Cup, and now we can actually hold tables of more than 10.”

After a frustrating year for the industry due to COVID-19, the state-wide restrictions have had a significant impact on venues across the town.

Like many others, the Tourist Hotel was forced to close for 12 weeks during the peak of the virus and has been required to adhere to strict regulations ever since re-opening to keep patrons safe.

“The crowd doesn’t understand how hard it is on licensees and mangers in hospitality, it’s not us trying to be harsh, it’s just the restrictions on us we have to maintain,” Mr Artis said.

“The sitting one is the biggest issue, people ask about the difference between sitting and standing, but it’s to try and stop people mingling.

“Previously when people tried to ring and book tables and functions, we couldn’t accommodate these, so we had to turn them away.

“We can now take more bookings with the 30 people rule and allow people to feel comfortable sitting together.”

The easing of restrictions is particularly pleasing for venues such as the Crossroads Hotel and the RSL which are planning Melbourne Cup day events next Tuesday.

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