Lockdown in the ACT has been extended for another four weeks, ending any hope it would finish on Friday as planned.
The new end date is October 15, with health officials set to reassess the regulations at the midway point.
The changes announced this week include more sporting opportunities, in-person real estate viewings and more staff allowed in businesses that provide click-and-collect services.
Senior students now have a date for a return to face-to-face learning, with year 12 students allowed back on campus in time for exams.
What are the new sport rules?
While it is unlikely competition sport will return this year, some social sports will be permitted from Saturday.
Golf, tennis and rowing can take place provided gatherings are limited to groups of five people. A limit of two hours will still be enforced at ACT golf courses, tennis clubs and on the lake. Clubs will only be permitted to open on Saturday if they have a COVID safety plan that details how people can return to play safely, and they have been asked to have minimum staff on site.
Masks will be required for everyone aged 12 and over. They may be removed if vigorous exercise is being undertaken.
Local league, soccer and AFL competitions will not finish their winter seasons, while hockey and rugby union clubs are likely to confirm the same news by the end of the week.
What is the plan for schools?
Year 12 students will be allowed back on campus to do their final assessments and exams at the start of term 4, which begins on Tuesday, October 5.
It was confirmed earlier in the week that year 12 students would not receive their ATAR scores in December as planned, with results now to be released next year.
Provided the COVID situation does not deteriorate, year 11 students will return to face-to-face learning on October 18.
Unfortunately for parents, there is still no plan for the return of preschool to year 10 students. They will continue remote learning for at least four weeks of term four.
Will big retailers click-and-collect?
No. Sorry. The click-and-collect changes announced this week will allow small businesses to have five staff members in store at one time, or one per four square metres. They were previously only allowed two people.
All he offered was a four-week extension, with little regard for Canberrans doing it tough.Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee
These non-essential small businesses have been allowed to operate since last month. The easing of restrictions doesn't provide an avenue for big businesses to open their doors.
In short, Kmart and BIG W will stay closed. This is despite the retailers being allowed to open for click-and-collect across the rest of Australia throughout the pandemic.
Bunnings will still only provide limited click-and-collect services, which means timber will only be available to those who can shop in store with a trade account.
What about national parks?
No movement on this either at this stage.
Despite non-essential recreational activity being permitted for up to two hours in the ACT, national parks remain closed.
This includes Namadgi National Park, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Lower Cotter Catchment, Cotter Precinct, Kambah Pool, Uriarra Crossing, Woods Reserve Campground, Northern Borders Campground and Googong Foreshores.
ACT Policing issued a reminder to residents regarding this lockdown rule on Tuesday, after about 100 people were asked to move on from Cotter Road and Paddy's River Road on the weekend.
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Where to from here?
Asked whether there is a plan to come out of lockdown, the ACT government has repeated the message that opening up is dependent on vaccination rates.
Based on the current vaccination trajectories, the nation is anticipated to reach the effective vaccination milestones of 70 and 80 per cent effective in mid-October and early- to mid-November respectively
On Tuesday, the ACT reached the milestone of 50 per cent of the population aged 12 and above being fully vaccinated.
There are unlikely to be any changes to the current restrictions for at least two weeks, with a reassessment based on caseload at the halfway mark of this lockdown extension.
Opening up in a month will also depend on the levels of community transmission, continued high-level testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine responses, community and business compliance with public health directions and the health system's capacity, an ACT government spokesperson said.
What is the opposition saying?
ACT Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee came out swinging against the Barr government on Tuesday, in her strongest comments yet.
Ms Lee said it was unacceptable that a four-week extension to the lockdown would include very few changes to restrictions and financial support for businesses.
"The Chief Minister has been spruiking for weeks now that today he would provide a roadmap and plan for a safe transition out of lockdown, but all he offered was a four-week extension with little regard for Canberrans doing it tough," she said.
"They are crying out for some support, they are pleading for some certainty and a plan for a safe transition out of lockdown."
What support is available?
Aid has been made available to residents who are struggling financially, and the ACT government will extend and expand a range of financial support measures in light of the extended lockdown.
A one-off $200 utilities discount will be provided to those who currently receive concession rates on their bills, which is expected to affect 31,000 households.
There will also be an extension of the previously announced land tax and commercial rates relief to landlords who provide rent relief to their tenants.
The measures have been extended through until December 31.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Commonwealth was ready to partner with the ACT to support residents battling the mental toll of a prolonged lockdown.
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