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Where can you go in New South Wales in October 2020? | NSW travel restrictions explained

As the state lifts COVID-19 travel bans, here's where you can go now, what you can do and what to keep in mind.

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All New South Wales residents are allowed to travel for leisure anywhere in the state.

Those living in a NSW-Victoria border community are urged not to travel to other parts of NSW unless for essential reasons and vice versa.

Outside of those, you're fairly free to explore the state at your leisure. When you do you will still need to practise physical distancing to lessen the risk of any community spread of COVID-19. If you have visited any locations where cases have arisen you must self-isolate and get tested for coronavirus.

You may also need to be flexible to changes in the way tourist attractions, hotels and dining venues operate.

We're covering what you need to know for travelling throughout New South Wales in this guide.

Travelling to Sydney? Read our guide on what's open in the city for a list of attractions, restaurants and public areas to visit.

Accommodation in New South Wales

Overnight recreational stays are allowed within the state. This includes both stays at family and friends' properties and at paid accommodation, like hotels and Airbnbs.

Can I stay overnight with family and friends?

Yes. You can invite as many visitors per day over to your home, as long as there aren't more than 20 people over at one given time.

The 20-person limit also applies to overnight stays.

It's recommended if you're vulnerable (for example, immunocompromised) or older than 70 that you should limit the number of overnight guests even further.

Can I book a stay at a hotel?

Under the latest recommendations by the New South Wales government, there are no restrictions to paid accommodation at hotels. Across the state, you can check in as a leisure traveller. However, there may be some changes to check-in and fewer amenities will be available at the hotel.

You can book into and stay at a New South Wales hotel if you are coming from another state, but you may need to quarantine upon arrival back home as per the regulations of your state.

Some hotels, especially in Sydney, are still being used as quarantine hotels for people returning from overseas.

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Can I stay at a privately owned or paid holiday home (like an Airbnb)?

Staying in a holiday home is permitted anywhere in the state. This includes a home you own or one you've booked on an accommodation site such as Airbnb and Stayz.

Holiday home groups are limited to a maximum of 20 people for overnight stays. The only time this number can exceed 20 people is if they are all members of the same household.

Airbnb has placed a worldwide limit of 16pax for rentals, excluding boutique hotels and event venues.

Am I able to book a bed or a private room at a hostel?

Hostels are taking in guests with physical distancing measures in place.

For example, the YHA chain has limited the occupancy in shared dorm rooms. It's offering more sanitisation stations, especially in shared spaces like bathrooms and kitchens.

Base Hostels allows guests to check in with their phone using an app.

At all hostels physical distancing should be practised.

Is camping and caravanning allowed?

There's no limit to how many people can stay at a campground, but you will need to practise physical distancing with other campers.

There is a maximum of 20 people per camping party both indoors and outdoors.

In New South Wales you can use shared barbeque and kitchen facilities as long as there is space of at least four square metres per person.

If you're planning a camping trip to a New South Wales national park you may need to reserve a spot in advance – even if it's to a campground that has been free in the past.

Tourist attractions in New South Wales

Popular attractions across the state are permitted to operate with COVIDSafe plans in place. This includes zoos, aquariums, museums and galleries.

To help make it easier to find available activities, RedBalloon has added a "Now Open" tag to its experiences.

Alternatively, you can pre-book or purchase vouchers for future travel if the activity isn't yet available.

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Some attractions that have re-opened across the state include:

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Are national parks in New South Wales open to visitors?

Most NSW National Parks are open to recreational visits, including camp sites within the parks. Camp sites need to be pre-booked for overnight stays.

A few parks are still closed such as those on the Far South Coast near Eden which were affected by the 2020 bushfires. Confirm on the NSW National Parks website before heading out to avoid disappointment.

Can I go to beaches and parks?

The opening status of beaches and local parks depends on the local council. Before you hit the surf check the local council website to make sure you won't have to turn back.

If the beach is open, you should practise the state's physical distancing restrictions. Stay in groups of 20 people or less and make sure there's at least 1.5m distance from you to the next group of people.

Will ski areas be open this year?

The ski season has ended for this year. Major ski fields did open for a short period. Details below:

Due to COVID-19, this year the ski fields opened a little late. The season opening dates were as follows:

  • Thredbo: 22 June
  • Perisher: 24 June
  • Charlotte Pass: 26 June
  • Selwyn Snow Resort: Closed due to bushfire damage

There were limited tickets available this year, which had to be pre-purchased to ensure no overcrowding. Group lessons were cancelled at Perisher and Thredbo.

Getting to and from your holiday destination

Am I able do drive anywhere within New South Wales or into the ACT/Canberra?

There are no limitations when driving your own vehicle. Generally you can go anywhere within the state; however, you should avoid stopping in border communities and NSW hotspots where possible.

These 10 road trips take you along the state's most beautiful and unique landscapes.

If you're hiring a car, there may be additional protocols due to COVID-19 in place, including when you can pick up and drop off your vehicle.

For example, Europcar has a zero-contact policy where the car keys will be disinfected and put into a sealed envelope.

Due to the rising cases of COVID-19 in NSW, ACT Health has advised that anyone who has travelled to a NSW hotspot should not work or visit high-risk settings for 14 days upon their return. Anyone entering the territory from NSW will not have to quarantine unless you are showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Am I able to fly within New South Wales (or to the ACT)?

Yes. There are no coronavirus-related restrictions on who can book flights within the state or to Canberra. So if you're hoping to take off to Byron Bay, Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra or any other destination in New South Wales, you can.

Qantas and Virgin Australia are offering flexible bookings for travel until 2021.

Extra safety measures are in place when flying. For example, Jetstar asks passengers to limit movement around the plane cabin and is offering all passengers masks and sanitising wipes to clean the seat belt, trays and armrests. These are offered for added comfort but aren't mandatory to use.

Are coach buses operating between cities?

As long as the services are still running, you can travel by coach between cities:

  • Greyhound: Still operating routes, including those with destinations outside the state. The buses stop at the border to comply with any restrictions. You can only take a bus north into Queensland if you're a resident or have an exemption.
  • Murrays: Murrays routes from Canberra to Sydney, Wollongong and Narooma are operating.
  • Premier: Still operating intrastate routes. New South Wales and Queensland routes are temporarily unavailable until borders completely reopen.

Can I take a train within the city or to regional New South Wales?

City rail services: The government is urging travellers not to use public transport during peak hour to more easily allow for physical distancing.

There are green "Sit here" and "Stand here" stickers on trains to identify where to sit so passengers are safely spread out within carriages.

Regional services: Trains aren't running into Queensland until the borders open up again. Until then, services will terminate at Tweed Heads. Food services on board trains will still be operating with some changes. For example, water fountains won't be available and only pre-packaged food items will be served.

The Great Southern rail journey which travels from Brisbane to Adelaide via NSW, ACT and Victoria is suspended until December.

Which states can I travel to?

State and territory borders are slowly reopening to NSW residents.

  • To Victoria: NSW residents may enter Victoria without needing to quarantine. When inside, you must comply with current health rules. This includes wearing a mask in public.
  • To Queensland: Borders are closed and only essential workers or those in select border communities may travel without restriction. All other travellers must submit a Border Declaration Pass and have permission to enter. When you do, you might be subject to 14 days of mandatory quarantine at your own expense. Borders may reopen to the rest of NSW following 28 days of no community transmission.
  • To Western Australia: Borders are closed and only essential workers may travel to Western Australia.
  • To South Australia: Borders are open to NSW residents without the need to quarantine. A border declaration pass is required to enter the state.
  • To Tasmania: Only essential travellers may enter. All other travellers must quarantine for 14 days. If you've been to a hotspot you may be turned away at the border. Restrictions will be lifted on 2 November following low COVID-19 case numbers.
  • To the ACT: Borders are open but the government strongly advises anyone entering from NSW to go into self-quarantine and be tested.
  • To the Northern Territory: Borders are closed to those from Greater Sydney hotspots who aren't essential travellers. Those who do enter from a hotspot are required to go into supervised government quarantine at their own expense. Borders are proposed to reopen on 9 October.

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Common questions about travelling in New South Wales during COVID-19

How far can I travel from my home?

There's no limit on how far you can travel from your home in New South Wales. To get the cogs turning, visit our NSW road trips guide for inspiration.

Are there any regional travel restrictions in New South Wales?

No. You can travel anywhere in New South Wales or into the ACT.

Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island, which were both closed for tourism due to COVID, are now open to travellers from New South Wales and the ACT.

Can I travel to New South Wales if I live in another state?

Yes. New South Wales is open to travellers from outside the state with the exception of Victoria. If you are arriving from another state you may be required to quarantine when you return. Check with your state government's regulations before booking.

Anyone who travels from Victoria into NSW must go into hotel quarantine, at their own expense, for 14 days.

Do I need to limit the number of people I travel with?

If you're all staying in the same accommodation, including campsites, you'll need to travel in groups of 20 people or less. If you normally live in a household with more than 20 people, you can travel with your household group.

However, if restaurants or attractions are restricted to groups of 20 or less, you may need to split up.

Do I need to pre-book to visit dining venues and attractions?

While not mandatory everywhere, it's recommended. Some attractions, like the Art Gallery of New South Wales, require visitors to pre-book (free) tickets with an entry time to limit the number of people in the gallery at any given time.

If you're hoping to dine at a popular restaurant, it's a good idea to make a reservation to avoid being turned away at the door due to limited capacities. Group bookings are restricted to 20 pax and alcohol must be served to seated patrons until 23 October where this increases to 30 pax.

All food and beverage venues must have a COVID Safety plan. This includes a hygiene marshal to ensure physical distancing and a customer sign-in for tracing purposes.

Will I need to self-isolate or go into quarantine when I get back from my trip?

No, if you've travelled within the state you won't need to go into quarantine on your return home.

If you've travelled to another state, you won't have to either unless you've travelled to Victoria or a declared hotspot.

Finally, if you've travelling from overseas, you still need to follow the NSW government's quarantine rules.

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