Australian states and territories have different levels of restrictions to contain Covid-19.
Here we answer some common questions about restrictions in each state, based on the information available as of 1 December.
This article should not be treated as legal advice. It will be updated as restrictions are announced, implemented or repealed.
How many people can I have over at my house?
New South Wales: people are allowed a maximum of 50 visitors in their homes at a time. However NSW Health strongly recommends having no more than 30 visitors at a time if the residence has no outdoor area. If there are more than 50 visitors at a home, every person can be held individually responsible for a breach of the public health order.
Victoria: people are allowed to have up to 30 visitors in their homes each day. The government advised people to keep a record of visitors where possible.
Queensland: you are allowed up to 50 guests inside your home.
Tasmania: you can have up to 40 visitors in your home.
Western Australia: there is no limit to the number of guests you are allowed as long as there is no more than one person per 2 sq m.
South Australia: gatherings in private homes are limited to 10 people, regardless of age. All gatherings must observe the density requirements of one person per 4 sq m.
Northern Territory: there is no limit on how many people can gather indoors or outdoors, but you must keep 1.5 m between you and anyone with whom you don’t live. Gatherings of more than 100 will require the completion of a Covid-19 checklist.
ACT: there is no limit on visitors, but physical distancing should be maintained.
How many people can gather outside?
New South Wales: public gatherings of up to 50 are allowed. This limit does not apply if the group of people are all from the same household or if it is a controlled outdoor event. Further easing of restrictions will be carried out on Monday 7 December.
Victoria: up to 100 people from any number of households can gather. 1.5 m should be maintained between yourself and others not from your household.
Queensland: public gatherings are restricted to a maximum of 50; this does not apply to businesses operating with a Covid-safe plan.
Tasmania: up to 1,000 are allowed in an undivided outdoor space as long as there is at least 2 sq m of space a person.
Western Australia: there is no limit on the number allowed at public gatherings as long as there is at least 2 sq m of space a person.
South Australia: gatherings at public places are capped at 50, with density requirements of one person every 4 sq m.
Northern Territory: there are no limits but you should maintain physical distancing. Gatherings of more than 100 will require completion of a Covid-19 checklist.
ACT: up to 500 people can gather together outdoors or in public indoor areas. There must be at least 4 sq m of space per person in indoor spaces and 2 sq m of space per person in outdoor spaces.
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. 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 feel unwell.
New South Wales: NSW Health provides guidelines for residential aged care facilities. Residents should have no more than two visitors a day, 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).
Victoria: there are no longer any restrictions on visits to care facilities in Victoria. People of any age can visit residents for as long as desired, as long as the rules set by the facility are followed. Face masks must still be worn.
Queensland: 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 the visit.
Tasmania: residents can have up to two visitors at one time. There is no limit on the number of visits in a day or the length of each visit. Residents are allowed to go outside on trips, and hairdressers can be allowed in. Additional visitors are allowed for end of life support, or if needed to reduce distress and confusion given a resident’s medical condition.
Western Australia: each resident can have one care and support visit a day, with up to two visitors at a time. Only immediate social supports, such as family and close friends, professional help or advocacy services can attend.
South Australia: up to two people can visit at the same time for care and support. There is no limit to the length of each visit. Workers must wear a mask where physical distancing isn’t possible, and can work at only one site.
Northern Territory: residents can have up to two visitors at a time. There is no limit on the number of visits 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 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 30, with venues observing the 4 sq m a person rule up to a cap of 300 for each separate area at any time. Small venues (up to 200 sq m in size) can have one person per 2 sq m indoors. All diners must provide name and contact details, including a phone number or email address, for contact tracing. Food courts have reopened.
Victoria: there are specific directions for differently sized indoor venues. Venues are capped subject to a density rule of one person per 2 sq m, with no other cap. There are no longer any group booking limitations.
Queensland: restaurants, cafes, pubs, registered clubs, RSL clubs and hotels with a Covid-safe checklist can seat any number of patrons as long as the 2 sq m-a-person limit is observed.
Tasmania: up to 250 are allowed in an undivided space as long as there is no more than one person every 2 sq m. Up to 1,000 people are allowed in an undivided outdoor space, density requirements permitting.
Western Australia: cafes and restaurants (including in pubs, bars, hotels, casinos, clubs) can open to up to seated diners, with one person every 2 sq m. There is no requirement for businesses to maintain a patron register, but they must display a COVID Safety Plan Certificate in a prominent location visible to patrons.
South Australia: restaurants, cafes, pubs, food courts, nightclubs and casinos have caps of 100 people, with density requirements of one person per 4 sq m total. Standing consumption, indoors and outdoors, is not allowed. Bookings are capped at 10 people maximum, with seated dining only.
Northern Territory: all businesses can reopen as long as they have a Covid plan. The two-hour limit has been lifted, meaning nightclubs can reopen. You can buy alcohol from a bar. Licensed gaming activities, including Tab, have restarted.
ACT: restaurants, cafes and other hospitality venues offering seated dining can host up to 500 patrons in each space, as long as there is one person per 4 sq m in indoor venues and one person per 4 sq m in outdoor venues. This limit excludes staff.
How far can I travel on holiday within my state?
Can I visit another state?
New South Wales: anyone can enter NSW. The Queensland-NSW border will be open to all travellers from NSW as of Tuesday 1 December 2020. Anyone travelling into NSW who has been to South Australia in the last 14 days must complete a NSW entry declaration form before entering NSW.
Victoria: no permit or approval is required for anyone wanting to enter Victoria, with the exception of South Australians, who require a permit. If you have travelled from a red zone in South Australia in the last 14 days, you are unable to enter Victoria, except for specific exemptions. If you have travelled from an orange or green zone, you will need to apply for a permit before you are able to enter Victoria.
Queensland: the Queensland border is open to all of New South Wales and Victoria. You will only be required to complete a Queensland Border Declaration Pass if you have been in a hotspot in the last 14 days, or overseas and didn’t fly into Queensland when you arrived in Australia. From Monday 16 November, 20 South Australia LGAs were declared a Covid-19 hotspot, meaning anyone travelling from there will be turned away at the border.
Tasmania: all travellers from ACT, NSW, NT, QLD, VIC and WA need to register via the Tas e-Travel system at least three days before entering Tasmania but can otherwise freely enter. Anyone travelling from South Australia must quarantine for 14 days in Tasmania (but may be able to do so at home). The intended quarantine location must be registered through the G2G PASS system.
Western Australia: travellers from ACT, NT, QLD and TAS will not be required to quarantine or present for Day 11 testing. However, they will need to complete the G2G PASS registration and declaration process. Travellers from NSW and VIC will need to self-quarantine for 14 days in a suitable premises as well as complete the G2G registration until 8 December, after which they will not required to quarantine. South Australians will not be permitted into WA unless new special exemption requirements are met.
South Australia: anyone travelling to SA must complete a cross-border travel registration, with travel open to everyone. Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, the ACT and the Northern Territory have closed their borders to South Australians, with some exemptions. The NT and Tasmania are imposing a 14-day quarantine on returning travellers from SA. NSW and Victoria have open borders with South Australia, with their respective governments advising travellers to either reconsider their travel or to be wary of the outbreak.
Northern Territory: you can enter provided you fill out a border entry form up to 72 hours before arrival and present it 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 and up to three years in prison apply for providing misleading information. Declared hotspots for Greater Melbourne and Adelaide have been lifted. There is no longer any requirement to undertake mandatory quarantine for those travelling into the NT from interstate.
ACT: anyone can enter the ACT, however, under a Public Health Direction, anyone travelling into the ACT who has been in South Australia must complete an online declaration.
How many people can attend a wedding or funeral?
New South Wales: up to 300 can attend a wedding, subject to the 4 sq m rule indoors and 2 sq m rule outdoors. For weddings, up to 20 people in the wedding party are permitted on the dance floor. This applies only to members of the official wedding party and dancers cannot be rotated or substituted throughout the celebration. Funerals can be attended by up to 100 providing there is at least 4 sq m a person. This applies to indoor and outdoor ceremonies. Those attending will have to provide name and contact details.
Victoria: Weddings and funerals are subject to a one person per two square metres density rule, with no other caps. A wedding or funeral held at a private residence is limited to the number of people in the household, plus two visitors.
Queensland: up to 200 can attend weddings and funerals at a professional venue. Private wedding services in public areas or private homes can have a maximum of 30, including the bride, groom, wedding party and marriage celebrant if there is no Covidsafe plan. Private funerals performed in public areas or private homes can have a maximum of 200. A record of names and contact details of each guest must be kept for 56 days.
Tasmania: up to 250 can gather in an undivided indoor space, and up to 1,000 in an undivided outdoor space. In both cases, the number present must also not exceed one person per 2 sq m.
Western Australia: there is no limit as long as there is no more than one person every 2 sq m.
South Australia: weddings are capped at 150, and all attendees must register with SA Health. Funerals are capped at 50. Density limits of one person every 4 sq m at both.
Northern Territory: there is no limit but gatherings of more than 100 will be required to complete a Covid-19 checklist.
ACT: up to 500 guests can attend weddings or funerals, as long as there is no more than one person every 4 sq m. 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 300, and the 4 sq m physical distancing rule must be observed, even if men and women are in seperate areas. The state’s chief health officer has urged congregations to reconsider activities that might spread the virus – such as group singing and passing collection baskets around.
Victoria: religious gatherings are limited to 150 worshippers indoors and 300 outdoor, not including a faith leader.
Queensland: one person per 4 sq m. However, if the place of worship is less than 200 sq m it can have one person per 2 sq m, up to a total of 50 at either private or public services.
Tasmania: up to 250 can gather in an undivided indoor space, as long as there are 2 sq m a person.
Western Australia: attendance is limited only by the 2 sq m rule.
South Australia: capped at 100. Attendance is limited only by the 4 sq m rule.
Northern Territory: there is no limit on how many can attend at the same time but social distancing should be observed.
ACT: a maximum of 25 people, excluding staff and those conducting the service, across the whole venue.
Are schools back in session?
Yes, schools across all states have reopened to face-to-face learning.
In NSW there are some restrictions on 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.
In Victoria, students over 12 must wear a face mask if they are learning or doing onsite supervision unless they attend a primary school.
Are salons, spas and other beauty services open?
Yes, hairdressers, barbers, nail waxing, tanning and beauty salons, tattoo and massage parlours have reopened across the country, provided businesses meet density limits, and, in South Australia, service providers wear a mask.
In Victoria, businesses that offer services where a face mask cannot be worn by the client for the duration of the service (such as facials and lip waxing) have now resumed. However, the person providing the service must wear a face mask at all times.
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 open to guests, as long as 4 sq m 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 50% of capacity . The total number of people in a major recreational facility hosting a non-ticketed or non-seated event must not exceed one person per 4 sq m (excluding staff) with no maximum capacity.
Victoria: entertainment and cultural venues such as music venues, museums, indoor and outdoor cinemas, and the casino are open, subject to capacity restrictions. Night clubs are also able to reopen. Brothels and strip clubs have reopened, but must have Covid-safe plans in place and follow strict patron limits. Libraries and community venues can hold up to 20 a venue.
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 Covidsafe plan. Face masks should be worn upon entry and exit.
Tasmania: up to 250 can attend each undivided space in indoor recreational facilities, such as libraries, arcades, play centres, cinemas, museums, national institutions, historic sites and galleries, the 2 sq m rule permitting. Up to 1,000 are allowed in each undivided outdoor space.
Western Australia: community facilities, libraries, galleries, museums, theatres, auditoriums, cinemas and concert venues can reopen, as can Perth zoo, wildlife and amusement parks, arcades, skate rinks and indoor play centres. All venues can have as many people as the one-person-per-2-sq-m rules allow. 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 can reopen under temporary restrictions.
South Australia: venues are open, but density requirements must be observed, with a maximum of one person per 4 sq m allowed at cinemas, theatres, concert venues, zoos, galleries, museums and historic sites.
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: 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 can sell seated (when applicable) tickets at no more than 50% of capacity of each venue. There can only be one person per 4 sq m 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: gyms, fitness centres and studios (such as dance studios) may open for up to 20 a class. The total in a facility must not exceed one person in 4 sq m, excluding staff. Indoor pools and saunas have also reopened to up to 20. Community sporting competitions and training can go ahead as long as the number in a facility does not exceed one person every 4 sq m, excluding staff, to a maximum of 500. You can use outdoor gym equipment in public, with caution, and enjoy activities such as fishing, hunting and boating.
Victoria: there are no limits on how long you can spend exercising each day or the number of times you are allowed to leave your home for exercise. Personal training is allowed and exercise in a group of up to 100 in a public place is permitted. For indoor exercise classes, the cap is 50 people. In general, gyms are subject to the one per four square metres density rule. Outdoor sport recreational facilities, such as tennis courts, golf courses or bowling greens, are open with some restrictions. Indoor exercise is allowed, with limits on the number allowed at once. Classes can resume with up to 20. Outdoor and indoor pools have opened, with restrictions on capacity. Outdoor non-contact sport can resume but limited to minimum number of people required for the game. Outdoor community sport for under 18s can resume under similar rules.
Queensland: yes, gyms, health clubs, yoga studios and community sports clubs can open for up to one person per 2 sq m up to a total of 50 if the indoor venue is 200 sq m or less. Indoor venues larger than 200 sq m can have one person every 4 sq m. 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 are allowed in an undivided indoor venue, as long as there are 2 sq m 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 sharing equipment, change rooms and other facilities.
Western Australia – Gyms, health clubs, and indoor sports centres can reopen for up to one person per 2 sq m. 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: indoor play centres, amusement parks and arcades will all remain closed. Community or club sports fixtures and trainings, whether indoors or outdoors, will not go ahead, as well as swimming, other than for fitness or rehabilitation. However, gyms, recreation centres, trampoline and play cafes have all reopened. Outdoor fitness activities, such as boot camps and personal training sessions, are also allowed, with density restrictions in place.
Northern Territory: gyms, fitness studios and indoor training activities such as Cross Fit are allowed. You can also officiate, participate and support team sports, such as football, basketball, soccer and netball.
ACT: indoor gyms and fitness centres are open to up to 100 people in any enclosed space, as long as there is only one person per 4 sq m. Full contact training for sport, dance and martial arts, as well as circuit training, is allowed. From 9am 2 December, if businesses and venues want to have more than 25 people across their venue, they can apply the one person per 2 sq m of usable space rule in both indoor and outdoor spaces provided they use the Check In CBR app to collect patron contact details. Venues will have until Wednesday 16 December 2020 to register with Check In CBR to meet this requirement. The new maximum number of people for each space will be 500.
Who decides if I am breaking the new laws?
Generally, enforcement is left up to the discretion of police officers.
States have expressed different approaches. For example, the ACT says it will issue a warning while Victoria has adopted a more hardline attitude to those break social distancing rules.
NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller said he would review all physical-distancing fines.
“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 but it appears fines can be appealed using the same process as other 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 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.