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Australian Restrictions Explained State by State | Epos Now

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Australian Restrictions Explained State by State

With Australia easing lockdown restrictions reopening for business, we explore how on a state by state basis.

Every Australian state and territory has embarked on their roadmaps to recovery following Covid-19. The plans see the reopening of retail stores, as well as return of dine-in guests at restaurants, cafes and bars around the country.

The staged process commenced at the end of May when Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announced a three-step plan to relax restrictions. With the national plan in place it was then up to the states and territories to decide on specific details and rollout timeframe.

See below a breakdown of where each Australian state is on their roadmap, and what this means for businesses.


Queensland entered stage two at midday 1 June. This allowed restaurants, cafes and pubs across the state to seat up to 20 dine-in patrons. In addition, outback venues can welcome up to 50 people at a time. The national physical distancing rules must be adhered to, however, which includes limiting capacity to one person per 4 square meters.

Part of the rules mean guests must be seated, with bar and buffet-style service still prohibited. Food courts still remain closed for dine-in and can offer takeaway only. All venues must complete a COVID safe checklist, and this must be displayed prominently.

Some venue operators who have completed a Statement of Compliance for the approved industry-specific COVID Safe Plan can seat more than 20 diners providing their venue is divided into distinct areas. Staff must complete a free micro-credential online through TAFE Queensland.

The ease in restrictions has also allowed cinemas, amusement parks, zoos, arcades theatres the ability to reopen with strict customer limits.

Australian Capital Territory

Currently, venues in the Australian Capital Territory, including restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs can seat up to 20 guests at a time in any indoor or outdoor space. The cap excludes staff and patrons waiting for takeaway. However the national physical distancing rule of one person per 4 square meters is still applicable and applies to both staff and all patrons on premises. First names and phone numbers of each guest must be collected for contact tracing.

Additionally if a venue has multiple, separate indoor and outdoor spaces, operators may seat up to 20 guests in each individual area. However, there must be dedicated waitstaff for each area and operators should reduce the contact wherever possible by managing exit and entry points and shared areas such as bathrooms. Still, the one person per 4 square meter rule applies to each space.

As of midnight 5 June, venues are required to implement a COVID-19 safety plan, which must be provided when requested by an authorised person. Businesses also need to check the COVID-19 Dine-in Checklist.

Diners cannot consume alcohol on-site unless it is accompanied by a meal. However takeaway liquor sales are permitted but are subject to liquor licence or permit conditions.

Food courts still remain closed.

New South Wales

Venues in New South Wales can welcome up to 50 guests for seated dining, excluding staff. Venues with multiple existing seated areas can seat up to 50 guests per space. However, bookings are capped at a maximum of 10 people per group and the entire venue must be able to adhere to the 4 square meters per person rule.

The restrictions apply to restaurants and cafes, as well as pubs, clubs, small bars, cellar doors, micro-breweries, small distilleries and casinos that serve food. In NSW alcohol can only be consumed alongside food.

Contact details, including a name and telephone number or email address must be collected when guests arrive, and operators must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Food courts remain closed for dine-in trade.

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory was the first state to reach stage three of its roadmap to recovery. As of 5 June, venues are allowed to operate without limits on dine-in numbers or time spent in a venue. However, tables still need to be spaced at least 1.5 meters apart and operators need to understand the guidelines for food businesses and complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan prior to reopening.

South Australia

Restaurants, cafes, wineries, pubs, breweries, and bars can seat up to 20 dine in customers per segmented area. If space permits, the venues can seat up to 80 guests split across these separated dining areas.

Density still remains capped at one person per 4 square meters as per the national physical distancing rules. Alcohol can be consumed without food at wineries, cellar doors and pubs but patrons must be seated (bar service is prohibited). Operators must complete a COVID Safe Plan and must produce it upon request. Businesses who don’t have a completed plan available could be fined $5,000.

A number of things are prohibited including communal food or drink services (buffets, salad bars, drink dispensers, cutlery); gaming areas or gambling facilities; shared equipment (pool tables, darts, game consoles) and reusable equipment (shisha, hookah, smoking or vaping).


Venues can serve up to 20 guests at a time in enclosed spaces via table service and alcohol can only be purchased with a meal. Maximum density is capped at one person per 4 square meters as per the national physical distancing rule. Businesses will need to collect first names and phone numbers of all visitors for contact tracing and store them for 28-days.

Premises must be deep cleaned before opening and appropriate signage must be displayed. Operators must also create a plan that takes into account the Hospitality Industry Guidelines for Coronavirus (COVID-19), which contains more details about the above requirements, as well as guidance from WorkSafe Victoria.

Hospitality professionals are encouraged to complete a free online training module.

Food courts can offer takeaway only, strictly no dine in.

Western Australia

Under stage three, which commenced on 6 June, the 4 square metre rule has been revised to 2 square metres per person for all WA venues.

Venues can have a maximum of 100 dine-in patrons per undivided space or 300 patrons per venue (excluding staff) and must maintain a guest register for contact tracing.

Alcohol can be served at licensed premises without a meal, so long as patrons are seated.

Operators need to update and display their COVID Safety Plan Certificate in accordance with guidelines and must also display signage.

Staff need to complete the COVID-19 Hospitality & Tourism Hygiene Course, developed in collaboration with the AHA WA.

Food courts can reopen, however patrons must remain seated when eating. Visitor contact details do not need to be collected.


Restaurants, cafes, pubs, clubs, hotels, RSLs and sports clubs can serve food and/or drinks to up to 40 guests. These restrictions apply to venues as a whole, regardless of how many separate dining areas exist, and the 4 square meters per person physical distancing rule applies. Takeaway customers are not included in the limit but do count towards density. Contact details need to be collected for the person who booked or at least one diner from walk-in groups.

Food courts can provide takeaway only.

Additionally businesses must develop a COVID Safe Workplace Plan before reopening or expanding their operations.

In addition, please find links to helpful resources we’ve written to help you prepare your business to reopen:

Retail Resources:

How to Keep your Staff and Customers Safe when you Reopen
Five Vital Steps to Prepare your Retail Business to Reopen
How to Drive Foot Traffic to your Shop when you Reopen

Restaurant Resources:

How to Prepare your Hospitality Business for Reopening


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