Exemptions for seated performances and places of worship – frequently asked questions

Guidance: FAQs about the easing of restrictions for seated performances and places of worship and what this means for community and business

From Tuesday, 1 December 2020, places of worship are exempt from the 2 square metre rule and are able to operate at a 60 per cent capacity


Last updated: 16 December 2020 at 11.53am

 

Phase 4 exemption

What changes are being made for Phase 4?

These changes affect certain venues with one or more seated entertainment spaces which contain fixed seating and were regularly used for seated performances or seated entertainment immediately before 15 March 2020 or immediately before 11.59 pm on 23 October 2020. For a seated performance or seated entertainment that is ticketed and takes place in a seated entertainment space at such a venue, the new maximum capacity is 60 per cent of the fixed seating capacity or (if it is higher) as many as would be allowed under the 2 square metre rule.

From 1 December 2020, the exemption has been expanded to include places of worship and certain other places while they are being used for the purposes of formal worship.

They are permitted to operate at a new maximum capacity of 60 per cent of the fixed seating capacity or (if it is higher) as many as would be allowed under the 2 square metre rule.

If that part of the place that is being used for formal worship does not have an approved capacity then the 2 square metre rule applies.

This exemption does not apply to events that are required to develop a COVID Event Plan.

What venues are exempt?

Venues that have seated entertainment spaces covered by the exemption include:

  • Theatres
  • Concert halls
  • Auditoriums/amphitheatres
  • Cinemas
  • Comedy lounges
  • Performing arts centres
  • Places (other than certain stadiums and arenas) that are being used for the purposes of formal worship.

What’s the rationale around these changes?

The WA Government recognises that the arts and culture industry, and specifically venues who provide seated and ticketed performances as their regular function, have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the application of the 2 square metre rule.

With this in mind, the WA Government is allowing for increased capacity at seated performances, due to the low risk nature of these events, on the advice of the Chief Health Officer.

What restrictions are still in place?

The following restrictions are still in place:

  • 2 square metre rule (except for seated and ticketed performances at seated entertainment spaces within selected venues and certain places that are being used for formal worship activities)
  • Capacity limits for WA’s major venues – Optus Stadium, HBF Park, HBF Stadium – Main Arena, and RAC Arena
  • Restricted access to remote Aboriginal communities
  • WA’s controlled interstate border

Places of worship

From 1 December 2020, places of worship are included in the exemption.

They are permitted to operate at a new maximum capacity of 60 per cent of the capacity or (if it is higher) as many as would be allowed under the 2 square metre rule.

If the place being used for formal worship does not have an approved capacity then the 2 square metre rule applies.

What does the worship exemption cover?

The exemption will now include places that are being used for the purposes of formal worship activities. This will include a premises used for religious activities such as a chapel, church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This also applies to places where ‘formal worship’ is conducted. Formal worship means a religious ceremony or service that consists of communal involvement or participation in religious observances or practices, including rites, rituals, prayer, singing or the receiving of religious instruction.

How do I calculate the capacity of my place of worship?

For places of worship, or venues where formal worship occurs, the capacity allowed is 60% of the capacity of the part of the premises being used for formal worship, as approved under the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1911 (WA).

Do places of worship require tickets now?

Places of worship, or venues where formal worship occurs, are not required to have a ticketing system, however they are required to maintain a contact register from 5 December 2020 for use in contact tracing if required.

Advice for businesses which fall under this exemption

Some entertainment venues will now be able to operate with 60 per cent fixed seated capacity in their seated entertainment space (not including staff and performers). This exemption applies to seated and ticketed performances only. The exemption applies to seated and ticketed performances over 500 that fall within the existing terms of a Local Government Authority approval under section 178 of the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1911 (WA).

Events of more than 500 people that require an approved COVID Event Plan remain subject to the 2 square metre rule and will not be able to operate with 60 per cent capacity.

For more information visit COVID-19 coronavirus: Events.

Can I operate at full capacity if my venue isn’t listed above?

No. Under the further easing of restrictions, only selected venues with seated entertainment spaces who provide seated and ticketed performances as their regular function are exempt from the 2 square metre rule and may now operate with 60 per cent of their fixed seated capacity (not including staff and performers). The exemption only applies whilst the seated entertainment space is being used for a seated performance or seated entertainment.

When does the exemption come into effect?

This exemption came into effect on 11.59pm on Friday 23 October 2020.

Places of worship were added to the exemption on 1 December 2020.

Are there still any fines or consequences in place for those who flout the Phase 4 rules?

It may be an offence to fail to comply with the Directions. The maximum penalty for this offence is:

  • imprisonment for 12 months or a fine of $50,000
  • a fine of $5000 for each separate and further offence.

If the offence is committed by a company, the maximum fine is increased to $250,000.

Breaches may also be dealt with by the issue of an on-the-spot infringement notice, which imposes a $1000 fine, or $5000 for a company.

I hold an approved COVID Event Plan, is my event exempt?

Events that require an approved COVID Event Plan under the Directions are not captured under this exemption. These events must continue to comply with the 2 square metre rule. For more information on events that require a COVID Event Plan, visit COVID-19 coronavirus: Events.

What does ticketed mean?

Ticketed involves allocated individuals specific tickets, whether a for-profit or not-for-profit basis, which grants the entry to a performance, with sufficient information to identify the seat allocated to a patron. Places of worship, or venues where formal worship occurs, are not required to have a ticketing system, however they are required to maintain a contact register from 5 December 2020 for use in contact tracing if required.

How do I calculate the capacity of my seated entertainment space under the 60% capacity exemption?

The maximum capacity of a seated entertainment space is the number of patrons who could be seated in the fixed seating at the space as at 19 October 2020. Under the exemption, 60 per cent of the maximum capacity may be seated at seated performances in the seated entertainment space.

Can I install fixed seating in my entertainment venue to ensure the exemption applies to my venue?

No, only those spaces at selected venues that have fixed seating and, immediately prior to 15 March 2020 or immediately prior to 11.59 pm on 23 October 2020 were regularly used for seated performances or entertainment, are eligible for the 60 per cent seated capacity exemption. Venues cannot change their function or install fixed seating for this purpose.

Does this exemption apply to outdoor events?

If the venue (e.g. an outdoor cinema) has a seated entertainment space with fixed seating which was regularly used for seated performances or seated entertainment immediately before 15 March 2020 or immediately before 11.59 pm on 23 October 2020, the exemption will apply to any ticketed seated performance or seated entertainment at that outdoor space.

The exemption will not apply to outdoor venues where fixed seating is not available, or if the outdoor venue operates as an event and requires local government or Department of Health approval to proceed.

Applying 60% seated capacity means that I will have less seated capacity than the 2 square metre rule. Can I continue applying the 2 square metre rule?

Yes, you can continue applying the 2 square metre rule if, due to the layout of your seated entertainment space, 60 per cent of the seated capacity is less than the capacity allowed under the 2 square metre rule.

The seated entertainment space at my venue is exempt. Do I still need to leave a minimum space between group bookings or families?

Yes. You must take all reasonable steps to ensure that groups of patrons are spaced at least 1.5 metres apart, even if the 60 per cent seated capacity exemption applies to your seated entertainment space.

COVID Safety Plans

Do COVID Safety Plans need to be updated?

Venues who may now allow 60 per cent capacity for seated and ticketed performances under these changes should review their COVID Safety Plans and update them to reflect these changes. Venues should ensure they are implementing the appropriate public health measures for the safety of patrons, including physical distancing requirements, hygiene and cleaning regimes, and staff management.

Page reviewed 16 December 2020