March 11, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

Developments include the rising prevalence of an Omicron sub-variant and the removal of density limits and mandated masks in different states.

Rising cases in New South Wales

While cases are rising in several states and territories around Australia, the starkest rise is in New South Wales where there has been a 42 percent rise in cases in the last seven days, compared to the previous week.

Authorities in New South Wales and the UNSW brains behind pandemic modelling for the state have flagged the BA.2 Omicron sub-variant as the reason behind the latest spike in cases.

According to UNSW School of Population associate professor James Wood, who has been part of the team behind behind the pandemic modelling produced for NSW, the BA.2 variant on the variant is around 25 per cent more infectious than the original Omicron strain which saw cases begin soaring in December. Wood suggests the newer variant could become responsible for about 90 per cent of COVID-19 cases in NSW by the end of March.

Wood also says the coming spike in cases would likely be around 20,000 to 30,000 cases a day.

Implication for the events industry are a greater risk of having COVID cases present in an event setting, meaning there is greater justification for measures like rapid testing to prevent COVID entering an event as well as a stronger argument for a focus on increasing ventilation within the event setting to minimise the chance of transmission if COVID evades rapid testing protocols.

All density limits removed in South Australia from tomorrow

The South Australian Government has announced that more COVID-19 restrictions will ease from one minute after midnight tonight, with the one person per two square metres density limit in public venues scrapped.

The remaining restrictions on singing and dancing are also going, all of which gives greater freedom to events operating in the state.

The isolation requirement for those who test positive for COVID is also reducing from 10 days to seven, which could also provide another boost to event attendance as the consequences of contracting COVID diminish slightly.

However, in South Australia, new COVID cases are also rising, with the latest genome-sequencing data showing that 19 per cent of cases were the Omicron sub-variant that is currently causing significant case rises in NSW, so event safety measures will gain even more importance going forward.

Masks going in another setting in Tasmania from this evening

Tasmania is removing the mask requirement for outdoor events with over 1,000 attendees from 5pm this evening.

The state still has some restrictions on large events, particularly those with over 2,000 attendees, which still require approval to go ahead.

Tasmania is also seeing a rise in cases, although smaller than that being experienced in NSW – cases in Australia’s island state have gone up about 12 per cent in the past week compared to the week prior.