Australian states and territories are currently under different levels of restrictions to contain Covid-19.
Here we answer some of the most common questions people have about the restrictions in each state, based on the information available as of 28 September.
This article should not be treated as legal advice. It will be updated as new restrictions are announced, implemented or repealed.
Victoria coronavirus outbreak: what are the rules and do they apply to me?
Melbourne entered stage four restrictions from 6pm on Sunday 2 August, and a statewide mandatory mask policy took effect from midnight Sunday 2 August. On Thursday 17 September, regional Victoria moved to “step three” of the state’s roadmap out of lockdown.
You can read all about the rules and recommendations around masks here.
You can read all about Melbourne’s restrictions and coronavirus lockdown rules here.
You can read all about regional Victoria’s coronavirus restrictions and lockdown rules here.
Details on restrictions in other states and territories can be found below.
How many people can I have over at my house?
New South Wales – On Sunday 19 July, the government issued advice asking people not to host, or go to, a gathering of more than 10 people at home. But the law in NSW currently allows 20 people from different households to visit. There is no limit to the number of guests you can have over per day, as long as there are no more than 20 at a time and guests can stay overnight. If there are more than 20 visitors at a home, every person can be held individually responsible for a breach of the public health order.
Queensland – There are no longer any restricted local government areas meaning one set of gathering rules apply across the whole state. You are allowed up to 30 guests inside your home including the members of your household.
Tasmania – You can have up to 20 visitors over.
Western Australia – There is no limitation to the number of guests you are allowed as long as there is no more than one person per two square metres.
South Australia – Gatherings in private homes can have up to 50 people, including members of the household, as long the maximum density does not exceed one person per two square meters.
Northern Territory – There is no limit on how many people can gather indoors or outdoors, but you must keep 1.5 metres between you and anyone with whom you don’t live. Gathering of over 100 will require the completion of a Covid-19 checklist.
ACT – There is no limit on household visitors.
How many people can gather outside?
New South Wales – Currently public gatherings of up to 20 people are allowed. On 1 July community sport for children and adults returned, including contact sports. The Public Health Act says organisers must ensure that venues do not exceed the four square metre per person rule, up to a limit of 500 participants (which includes players, officials and spectators). Associations must also have a Covid 19-safety plan. More than one parent may attend community sporting activities if physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres can be maintained between people that are not from the same household.
Queensland – Across Queensland public gatherings are restricted to a maximum of 30 people, these limits do not apply to businesses operating with a Covid-safe plan.
Tasmania – Up to 1,000 people are allowed in an undivided outdoor space as long as there is at least two square metres of space per person.
Western Australia – There is no limit on the number of people allowed at public gatherings as long as there is at least two square metres of space per person.
South Australia – There is no limit of public outdoor gatherings as long as there is at least two square metres of space per person.
Northern Territory – There are no limits on gathering in the NT, but you should maintain physical distancing. Gathering of over 100 will require to completion of a Covid-19 checklist.
ACT – Up to 100 people can gather together outdoors or in public indoor areas as long as there is at least four square metres of space per person.
Can I visit someone in an aged care facility?
In every state, all visitors must have received this year’s flu vaccination, unless they have a documented medical contraindication to receiving the vaccine. Visitors cannot enter an aged care facility if they have recently been overseas, been in recent contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19, or are feeling unwell.
New South Wales – NSW Health provides guidelines for residential aged care facilities. Residents should only have one daily visit with a maximum of two visitors (immediately family or close friends), no large group visits or gatherings, and all visits should be short and take place in the resident’s room, outdoors or a specified area (instead of a communal area).
Queensland – Aged care residents can have up to two visitors at any one time. There is no limit on the number of visits allowed in a day or the length of each visit.
Tasmania – Aged care residents can have up to two visitors at any one time. There is no limit on the number of visits allowed in a day or the length of each visit. Residents are permitted to go outside on trips, and hairdressers can be allowed in. Additional visitors are allowed for the purpose of end of life support, or if needed to reduce distress and confusion given a residents’ medical condition.
Western Australia – Each resident in an aged care facility can have one care and support visit a day, with up to two visitors at a time. Only immediate social supports, like family members and close friends, professional help or advocacy services can attend.
South Australia – Up to two people can visit residents at the same time for the purpose of providing care and support. There is no limit on the number of visits allowed in a day or the length of each visit.
Northern Territory – Residents can have up to two visitors at a time. There is no limit on the number of visits allowed in a day or the length of each visit.
ACT – Residents can be visited by up to two people at a time. There is no limit on the number of visits allowed in a day or the length of each visit.
Can I eat at a restaurant, cafe or pub?
New South Wales – Yes, but group bookings are limited to 10 people, with venues observing the four square metre per person rule up to a cap of 300 people per separate area at any one time. All diners must provide their name and contact details, including a phone number or email address, to allow for contact tracing. Food courts have reopened.
Queensland – Yes, restaurants, cafes, pubs, registered clubs, RSL clubs and hotels (with a Covid-Safe Checklist) can seat any number of patrons as long as the four square metres per person limit is observed. Venues with a floor space less than 200 square metres can have a maximum of 50 people, not exceeding a limit of one person for every two square metres.
Tasmania – Up to 250 are allowed in an undivided space, as long as there is no more than one person per two square metres. Up to 1,000 people are allowed in an undivided outdoor space, density requirements also permitting.
Western Australia – Yes, cafes and restaurants (including in pubs, bars, hotels, casinos, clubs) can open to up to seated diners, with one person per every two square metres. Venues are allowed to serve food and alcohol to non-seated patrons. There is no requirement for businesses to maintain a patron register.
South Australia – Yes, restaurants, cafes, pubs, food courts, nightclubs and casinos can open, as well as standing hospitality venues. There is no limit on the number of people allowed, as long as there is no more than one person per two square metres. Communal food, like buffets and salad bars, are not permitted. The venue must have a Covid marshal. This can be a regular staff member if there are less than 200 patrons but must be a dedicated marshal if there are more.
Northern Territory – Yes. All businesses are allowed to reopen as long as they have a Covid-19 plan. The two-hour limit has been lifted, meaning night clubs can reopen. You can purchase alcohol from a bar. Licensed gaming activities, including TAB, have restarted.
ACT – Yes, restaurants, cafes and other hospitality venues offering seated dining can host up to 100 patrons in each indoor or outdoor space, as long as there is one person per four square metres. This limit excludes staff.
How far can I travel on holiday within my state?
New South Wales – There are no limits on travelling within the state, including for a holiday. A number of caravan parks and camping grounds have reopened.
Queensland – You are allowed to travel anywhere in Queensland for recreational purposes. Camping and holiday accommodation sites, including caravan parks, are allowed to open.
Tasmania – There is no limit on where you can go within the state.
Western Australia – Residents are allowed to leave their homes for recreational activities including picnics, fishing, boating or camping. Recreational travel to most nearby regions is now allowed, except to some remote Aboriginal communities.
South Australia – There are no restrictions on travel within South Australia, as all remote communities have now opted out of the voluntary restricted travel program.
Northern Territory – There are no restrictions on travel within the Northern Territory.
ACT – There is no limit on where you can travel.
Can I visit another state?
New South Wales – Anyone can enter NSW unless they have travelled to Victoria in the last 14 days. Those travelling from Victoria require an exemption to enter the state and must quarantine for 14 days. Residents within 50kms on either side of the VIC/NSW border can travel within that region if they hold a valid permit. On Saturday 8 August, Queensland closed its border to people from NSW and anyone who attempts to enter without a permit will be turned away at the border. From 1 October NSW residents in the “border zone” will be allowed to move freely into Queensland for any reason.
Queensland – Since 10 July, anyone can enter Queensland unless they have been in a Covid-19 hotspot in the previous 14 days, in which case they will be refused entry. This includes anyone who has visited any part of Victoria and areas of NSW outside the northern border zone. Residents travelling to Tasmania will be required to self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive in the state and people from Queensland can’t travel to WA unless they have an exemption.
Tasmania – Those who have been inside a declared hotspot in the last 14 day are not allowed to enter Tasmania unless they have been granted an exemption under the G2G PASS system, and non-essential travellers will be required to undertake and pay for hotel quarantine. Hotspot regions include all of Victoria and specific venues where outbreaks have been recorded in other states. All travellers who have not been inside a hotspot, including returning residents, still must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Non-Tasmanian residents must carry out their quarantine in government-provided accommodation.
Western Australia – You cannot enter Western Australia unless you are granted an exemption on application. There were previously stricter rules for people who have travelled from NSW or Victoria, but as of Monday 5 October, NSW residents will have the same conditions as other states and territories. Victorians have stricter entry conditions, but will be able to self-quarantine at a suitable location. There is no date for when the interstate border will reopen.
South Australia – People from all states and territories except Victoria can enter South Australia without having to quarantine for 14 days so long as they haven’t been in Victoria in the past fortnight. South Australian residents will not be allowed to return to their state from Victoria unless they are essential travellers. Victorians living within 40kms of the SA border are allowed into the state for essential purposes only. They can not travel more than 40kms into SA and must have had a negative Covid-19 test in the last 7 days and complete a registration form.
Northern Territory – You can enter the Northern Territory provided you fill out a border entry form up to 72 hours from entering and present your application upon entry. You will be required to legally declare you have not been in an area the state considers a Covid-19 hotspot in the past 28 days. Penalties of up to $5,000 in fines and up to three years in prison apply for providing misleading information on this border entry form. Travellers and returning residents from Covid-19 hotspots, (currently Victoria and the greater Sydney region) will have to complete 14 days of mandatory quarantine at their own expense, which is $2,500 per person.
ACT – Currently anyone can enter the ACT unless they have travelled to Victoria recently. People who are not ACT residents may not enter the ACT from Victoria unless they hold an exemption, and returning ACT residents are required to enter quarantine until 14 days after leaving Victoria. They also must travel via air to Canberra airport due to NSW travel restrictions. It’s recommended but not mandated that residents of Sydney suburbs experiencing outbreaks do not travel to the ACT.
How many people can attend a wedding or funeral?
New South Wales – From 24 July weddings and corporate events are limited to 150 people, subject to the four square metre rule. Funerals and places of worship are limited to 100 people. For weddings, up to 20 people in the wedding party are permitted on the dance floor. This only applies to members of the official wedding party and dancers cannot be rotated or substituted out throughout the celebration. Funerals can be attended by up to 100 people, providing there is at least four square metres per person. This applies to both indoor and outdoor ceremonies. Those attending will have to provide their name and contact details for contact tracing, if necessary.
Queensland – No more than 100 people are allowed to attend weddings and funerals conducted at a professional venue. Private wedding services performed in public areas or private homes can have a maximum of 30 people attend including the bride, groom, wedding party and marriage celebrant if there is no Covidsafe plan. If they have engaged a business, such as a catering company, with a Covidsafe plan they can have up to 100. Private funeral services performed in public areas or private homes can have a maximum of 30 people attend. A record of names and contact details of each guest must be kept for 56 days to assist in contact tracing if required.
Tasmania – Up to 250 people can gather in an undivided indoor space, and up to 1000 people can gather in an undivided outdoor space. In both cases, the number of people present must also not exceed one person per two square metres.
Western Australia – There is no limit on the number of people who can gather together, as long as there is no more than one person per two square metres.
South Australia – Weddings and funeral can have up to 150 attendees. If the ceremony involves food or drinks, no shared utensils can be used. Social distancing must be observed and a record of attendees kept.
Northern Territory – There is no limit on the number of attendees. Gatherings of over 100 people will require to completion of a Covid-19 checklist.
ACT – Weddings and funerals can have up to 25 guests regardless of venue size, and up to 100 guests can attend weddings or funerals, as long as there is no more than one person per four square metres. Dancing at weddings is permitted.
Can I go to my place of worship?
New South Wales – The number of people in a public place of worship must not exceed 100, and the four square metre physical distancing rule must be observed. The state’s chief health officer has urged congregations to reconsider activities that might spread the virus-like group singing and passing round of collection baskets.
Queensland – Yes. Places of worship can have one person per four square metres. However, if the place of worship is less than 200 square metres, then the venue can have one person per two square metres, up to a total of 50 people at either private or public services.
Tasmania – Yes, up to 250 people can gather in an undivided indoor space, as long as there are two square metres per person.
Western Australia – Yes, attendance is limited only by the two square metre rule.
South Australia – Yes, attendance is limited only by the two square metre rule. The religious venue must have a Covid marshal. This can be a regular staff member if there are less than 200 worshipers and but there must be a dedicated marshal if there are more.
Northern Territory – There is no limit on how many people can attend a place of worship at the same time but social distancing should be observed.
ACT – Places of worship and religious ceremonies can have a maximum of 25 people, excluding staff and those conducting the service, across the whole venue.
Are schools back in session?
New South Wales – Yes, all students went back to school full-time on Monday 25 May. There are a number of restriction on school-based activities, including requiring physical distancing for choirs, musical ensembles and class activities which involve group chanting. Full details can be found on the NSW government website. High school formals will be permitted from 12 November.
Queensland – Yes, all students are back at school as of Monday 25 May.
Tasmania – Yes, as of 9 June, all students have returned to the classroom.
Western Australia – Yes, all students returned on 18 May. Parents and visitors are also now allowed on school grounds. Events and activities such as assemblies, excursions, choirs, exams, sports training and swimming classes can resume, in line with distancing requirements.
South Australia – Yes, they reopened for term 2.
Northern Territory – Yes, since 20 April all NT students have been expected to physically attend school.
ACT – Yes, all students have returned to school as of 2 June.
Can I shop for clothes and other ‘non-essential’ items?
Yes. You are allowed to shop for non-essential items in all states and territories except Victoria.
Are salons, spas and other beauty services open?
New South Wales – Hairdressers, barbers, as well as nail waxing, tanning and beauty salons, and tattoo and massage parlours can open, but must allow four square metres per person within the premises and should minimise personal contact with the customer.
Queensland – Yes, beauty therapy and nail salons, tanning salons, tattoo parlours, spas, and non-therapeutic massage parlours (with a Covid-Safe checklist) can open to up to 100 people on site.
Tasmania – Yes, businesses can reopen as long as density limits of two square metres per person are observed with a cap of 250 people.
Western Australia – Yes, all beauty services, including nail, tanning and waxing salons, as well as saunas, bath houses, wellness centres, float centres, spas and massage centres may reopen, for up to one person per two square metres.
South Australia – Yes, hairdressers and barbers, along with beauty salons, nail and tattoo parlours, non-therapeutic massage providers, spas, saunas and bathing can open, as long as the total number of people on-site doesn’t exceed one person per two square metres.
Northern Territory – Yes, hairdressers, and nail, massage and tanning salons, tattoo and piercing parlours and any other beauty services can open.
ACT – Yes, hairdressers and most other beauty therapy businesses are allowed to reopen with 25 people regardless of size, and up to 100 people provided there is one person per four square metres, including staff. They must keep a record of customers to enable contact tracing, if needed.
What about cinemas, entertainment venues, museums, libraries and open houses?
New South Wales - Museums, galleries and libraries, National Trust and Historic Houses Trust properties are allowed to reopen to guests, as long as four square metres is allowed per person and they have a Covid-19 safety plan. For large venues attendance to a ticketed event with allocated seating must not exceed 25% of capacity or 10,000. The total number of people in a major recreational facility hosting a non-ticketed or non-seated event must not exceed one person per four square metres (excluding staff), to a maximum of 500 people. Alcohol can only be served to seated patrons. For people attending an on-site auction or viewing a home, the property is exempt from the 20 visitor rule. Real estate agents must have a safety plan in place for viewings or inspections of open homes and public auctions.
Queensland – Libraries, museums, art galleries, historic sites, indoor cinemas, concert venues, theatres, arenas, auditoriums, stadiums, nightclubs, outdoor amusement parks, zoos and arcades can reopen with a Covid-safe plan.
Tasmania – Up to 250 people can attend each undivided space in indoor recreational facilities, such as libraries, arcades, play centres, cinemas, museums, national institutions, historic sites, and galleries, the two square metre rule permitting. Up to 1,000 people are also allowed per undivided outdoor space.
Western Australia – Community facilities, libraries, galleries, museums, theatres, auditoriums, cinemas, and concert venues can all reopen, along with Perth Zoo, wildlife and amusement parks, arcades, skate rinks and indoor play centres. All venues can have as many people, as long as there is one person per two square metres. There is a 50% capacity cap on major sport and entertainment venues, such as the Optus Stadium, HBF Park and RAC Arena. All events are allowed, except for large scale, multi-stage music festivals. Unseated performances can go ahead at concert halls, live music venues, bars, pubs and nightclubs, and the casino gaming floor will be allowed to reopen under temporary restrictions.
South Australia – Libraries, community and youth centres, cinemas, theatres, galleries and museums can have one patron per two square metres. Indoor play centres, arcades and amusement parks are also allowed to open. Swimming in public pools is allowed.
Northern Territory – Public libraries, art galleries, museums, zoos, cinemas and theatres, music halls, nightclubs, amusement parks, community centres, stadiums, sporting facility and similar entertainment venues can open.
ACT – Up to 100 people are allowed at cinemas and movie theatres, indoor amusement centres, arcades, outdoor and indoor play centres, betting agencies, outdoor amusements and attractions, community and youth centres, galleries, museums, national institutions, libraries historic sites and zoos. There can only be one person per four square metres throughout the venue. Audiences must remain seated at live performances.
Can I go to the gym? What else can I do for exercise?
New South Wales – Yes, gyms, fitness centres, and studios (like dance studios) are allowed to open for up to 20 people per class. The total number of people in a facility must not exceed one person per four square metres, excluding staff. Indoor pools and saunas have also reopen to up to 20 people. Community sporting competitions and training can go ahead as long as the number in a facility does not exceed one person per four square metres, excluding staff, to a maximum of 500 people. You can use outdoor gym equipment in public places, with caution, and engage in recreational activities like fishing, hunting and boating.
Queensland – Yes, gyms, health clubs, yoga studios and community sports clubs can open for up to one person per two square metres up to a total of 50 people if the indoor venue is 200 square metres or less. Indoor venues larger than 200 square metres can have one person per four square metres. People can gather outside, play non-contact sport, and participate in outdoor group training and boot camps with physical distancing . Parks, playgrounds, skateparks and pools are open with physical distancing rules.
Tasmania – Yes, up to 250 people are allowed in an undivided indoor venue, as long as there are two square metres per person. Outdoor gathering limits have increased to 1,000. Full contact training and full competition sport (contact and non-contact) is allowed, as is the sharing of equipment, change rooms and other facilities.
Western Australia – Gyms, health clubs, and indoor sports centres can reopen for up to one person per two square metres. Gyms can operate unstaffed but must undergo regular cleaning. Contact sport and training can also recommence, and playgrounds, outdoor gym equipment and skate parks can be used.
South Australia – Yes, gyms and indoor fitness classes can operate, subject to the one person per two square metres rule. Facilities are required to keep a record of patrons for contact tracing reasons.
Northern Territory – Yes. Gyms, fitness studios, and indoor training activities like Cross Fit are allowed to operate. You can also officiate, participate and support team sports, like football, basketball, soccer and netball.
ACT – Yes. Indoor gyms and fitness centres are allowed to reopen to up to 100 people in any enclosed space, as long as there is only one person per four square metres. A maximum of 25 people are allowed inside a 24-hour gym when unstaffed. Full contact training for sport, dance and martial arts, as well as circuit training, is allowed. Communal facilities, such as change rooms, can reopen if a risk assessment has been done and a strict cleaning regime has been put in place.
Who decides if I am breaking the new laws?
Generally, enforcement will be left up to the discretion of police officers.
States have expressed different approaches, for example, the ACT says it will be issuing a warning in the first instance, while Victoria has adopted a more hardline attitude to those break social distancing rules.
NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller said he would personally review all physical-distancing fines issued in the state.
“If I think it’s unreasonable, it will be withdrawn immediately and we’ll make personal contact with the individual,” he said.
What are my options for challenging a fine?
Not all states have specified this, however, it appears these fines can be appealed using the same process as other fines issued by police.
Information on how to lodge an appeal should be available on your state or territory’s government website.
• Due to the unprecedented and ongoing nature of the coronavirus outbreak, this article is being regularly updated to ensure that it reflects the current situation at the date of publication. Any significant corrections made to this or previous versions of the article will continue to be footnoted in line with Guardian editorial policy.