Phase 4 exemption – Easing restrictions for seated performances – frequently asked questions

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

Last updated: 24 November 2020 at 10.00am

 

 

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.

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

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.

How is this change different to Phase 5?

This exemption allows for increased capacity at seated entertainment spaces at certain venues who provide seated and ticketed performances as their regular function only. All other venues, businesses and events are still required to abide by the 2 square metre rule when calculating capacity levels. WA’s major venues (Optus Stadium, HBF Park, HBF Stadium – Main Arena and RAC Arena) are still only able to operate at the capacity levels currently set by the Direction.

In Phase 5, the 2 square metre rule and capacity levels for major venues will be removed, meaning all venues and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity.

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)
  • 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

Why isn’t Phase 5 going ahead when there has been more than 6 months without community transmission?

Western Australia remains highly susceptible to a major outbreak, given nearly all physical distancing and gatherings restrictions have been removed.

The Chief Health Officer has made it clear that community spread in the eastern states still poses a threat to our State, and there are still concerns over the border arrangements of other States.

Phase 5 will only go ahead when the Chief Health Officer is confident it is safe to do so.

When will Phase 5 come into effect?

The decision around when Phase 5 comes into effect will be based on health advice.

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.

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.

An on-the-spot fine of $1000 may be issued (or $5000 for a company), instead of being prosecuted.

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.

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 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.

Are places of worship included in the exemption?

No, places of worship are not included in the exemption, even if they have an auditorium or fixed seating. Places of worship must continue to comply with 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 26 November 2020