Coronavirus restrictions will ease further next week allowing some businesses to reopen for the first time in six months.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr has announced a partial transition to the next stage in the reopening of the ACT economy, allowing pokies to be turned back on, strip clubs, brothels, escort agencies and saunas to reopen and food courts to offer dine-in from 9am on Monday morning.
Casino Canberra has also been given the all clear to open its doors.
There will be no limit on the size of groups who can drink in bars, clubs and pubs without ordering food, but they must be seated. Up to 25 patrons will be allowed in gyms during unstaffed hours.
However, gatherings remained capped at 100 and the one person per four square metre rule will still apply.
With almost a month since the ACT last reported a new case of COVID-19, chief health officer Kerryn Coleman said it was appropriate to give more businesses the opportunity to reopen.
She said the move to allow outdoor gatherings of up to 250 people and crowds of 6000 at Canberra Stadium, which was envisaged under the original third stage of the restriction's roadmap, would be assessed every fortnight.
But she said it would seem "contradictory" to allow larger gatherings in the ACT while there was continued risks from outbreaks in NSW and Victoria.
The green light to resume gaming in the ACT has been welcomed by one of Canberra's largest club groups, which had been on the brink of shutting venues and laying off staff amid the uncertainty of when restrictions might be eased.
Southern Cross Club chief executive Ian Mackay said Thursday's announcement was a "glimmer of hope in a pretty gloomy period".
Mr Mackay said the group was a fortnight away from temporarily shutting venues, having already ceased trading on Monday and Tuesday to cut costs.
The clubs will revert to seven days a week trading and progressively start welcoming back community groups which use the venues.
While delighted to be finally given the all clear to turn on the pokies, Mr Mackay was well aware that restrictions could be reimposed if the pandemic flares again in the ACT.
"This may not be forever, but we will take it gleefully, happily," Mr Mackay said.
ClubsACT chief executive Gwyn Rees was far more circumspect in the wake of the announcement, which he described as "bittersweet".
"We are months behind most jurisdictions [in being allowed to resume gaming], we are eight weeks behind NSW," he said.
"From my perspective there isn't much to celebrate. We have seen job losses and one club [Eastlake Kaleen] permanently close already."
Casino Canberra chief executive Allison Gallaugher said the venue would reopen on Monday afternoon.
"We are very grateful that the ACT community has worked so hard to keep our infection rates low and that we have been able to put together a safety plan which ensures that we can reopen on Monday, within the set restrictions," she said.
"This has been a very stressful time for all of our team members and I'm very happy and relieved that we will be able to recall our employees and start to rebuild our business again.
"We will be subject to strict restrictions, which will mean that we operate below full capacity for some time, but we are committed to ensuring strict social distancing and compliance with the current restrictions to ensure the safety of our community."
Dr Coleman said some form of restrictions would need to remain to help suppress the virus should it re-enter the ACT, which was possible because of the territory's "fluid border".
The ACT government has faced calls to strengthen its borders in the wake of Queensland's decision to declare the territory a coronavirus hotspot.
Mr Barr pushed back on Thursday, saying closing the ACT's border would not allow Canberrans to return to normal life as some might hope.
"It would not achieve the quarantine seal that people hope it would," he said. "If you had a permit process, the second the seal was broken ... the virus would run through our community at an alarming rate. What people are asking for ... is not possible."