Canberra's hospitality industry is breathing a sigh of relief after the government announced venues will be able to significantly increase their capacity.
From Wednesday, the requirement for pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants to accommodate just one person per four square metres will be eased to one person per two square metres.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said it came with one condition - that venues use the ACT government's Check in CBR app.
"This is one of the most effective measures that we have to quickly and effectively manage any potential outbreak," he said.
Venues will have until December 16 to start using the contact tracing app.
But Canberrans won't be able to revel in a New Year's Eve fireworks display, as the ongoing pandemic forces the ACT government to rethink how it holds major events.
The National Multicultural Festival will be postponed, likely until the end of 2021. Australia Day celebrations will also be changed.
Australian Hotels Association ACT general Manager Anthony Brierley said the removal of the one person per four square metre rule was a rare bright spot after a difficult eight months.
"There is broad relief and I dare say there's even happiness in some quarters," he said.
"The timing of these changes to coincide with December will mean hospitality has some kind of Christmas.
"We still have a chance of surviving until there's a vaccine."
Mr Brierley said most businesses would be happy to use the government's check-in app.
"It is is the best on the market," he said. "It's fast and simple to use, and it's free.
"If a business has a strong objection to it, they can choose to keep operating at one patron per four square metres."
Edgar's Inn owner Frank Condi said the move would bring some much needed stability to the industry.
"Everyone's on a knife's edge," he said. "The industry's been sitting dormant for along time now and there are a lot of businesses on the edge of closing."
Mr Condi said businesses were facing a tough Christmas with many pre-bookings based on earlier capacity requirements
"We just need to get through maximise these numbers as much as we can," he said
"This is the time we make money and the last nine months of the year have been a disaster.
"We will just need to try to recoup some of that now."
The announcement came after some of Canberra's most popular drinking spots this week banded together to call on the Barr government to urgently ease density restrictions, amid fears venues could be forced into hibernation.
Among the other changes to come into effect on December 2, the cap on crowd numbers at Manuka Oval and GIO Stadium will be lifted to 65 per cent of the venues' capacity.
Cinemas and theatres will also be able to sell 65 per cent of their seats, up to a maximum of 500, provided the venues are using the government's contact tracing app to collect patron details.
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the changes struck a balance between moving forward and protecting the community from COVID-19.
Restrictions will next be considered in February.
"This will give the chief health officer enough time to review these changes and make a decision based on the current health advice ... post the busy summer holiday period," she said.
Ms Stephen-Smith said widespread use of the Check-In CBR app would give the government confidence it could respond to an outbreak quickly and effectively.
The check-in details go directly to ACT Health and are only accessed in the event of a COVID case at a location a user has visited.
Canberra's calendar of summer events will look vastly different due to the pandemic.
The traditional New Year's Eve fireworks display and concert in Civic Square won't go ahead, with the ACT government to instead stage smaller events in each of the city's town centres.
Other festivals and events, such as Enlighten, Canberra Balloon Spectacular and Canberra Day, will be able to proceed but with changes to ensure compliance with health rules.
The biggest blow to the event's calendar is the postponement of the popular National Multicultural Festival, which attracts hundreds of thousands of people to Canberra's city centre each February.