Where can you go in New South Wales in January 2021? | 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 and the state has its borders open to everyone else in Australia.

Depiste this freedom of movement, you will still need to practise physical distancing. A mandate is also in place for Greater Sydney, Wollongong, the Blue Mountains and the Central Coast that requires you to wear a face mask indoors during certain circumstances. This includes at the supermarket, retail outlets, on public transport, at places of worship and at hair and beauty salons.

If you have visited any locations where cases have arisen you must self-isolate and get tested for coronavirus.

Across Greater Sydney and the Northern Beaches is a 5-person visitor limit per household, including children under 12.

Western Australia has its border closed. The rest of Australia has closed its borders to select regions of the Northern Beaches and Greater Sydney.

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

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 5 people over at one given time.

This 5-person limit also applies to overnight stays until further notice.

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 unless you're in a locked down area. 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 or self-isolate 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 (such as an Airbnb)?

Staying in a holiday home is permitted across the state, unless you're currently in lockdown. 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 10 people for overnight stays.

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 5 people per camping party.

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 may be closed for safety reasons or to regenerate. 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 10 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 2020. 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 unless you're in a locked down area, in which case you must stay at home unless you're out for essential reasons.

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.

Bear in mind that if you are travelling to the ACT from Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Northern Beaches or Wollongong that you must quarantine upon arrival for 14 days.

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

As of 8 January 2021, face masks are mandatory on all domestic and international flights.

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.
  • Murrays: Murrays routes from Canberra to Sydney, Wollongong and Narooma are operating.
  • Premier: Still operating intrastate routes. New South Wales and Queensland between Eden and Cairns are running though a Queensland Border Declaration pass is required to cross into Queensland.

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: NSW TrainLink trains running between NSW and Queensland recommenced at 1am on 1 December 2020. Food services on board trains may be operating with some changes. For example, water fountains won't be available and only pre-packaged food items will be served.

Due to the Northern Beaches cluster, a Border Crossing Permit is required by Sydney-siders to enter Queensland. Anyone who has been to a hotspot must apply for an exemption to enter Queensland and quarantine in a hotel at their own expense for 14 days upon arrival.

The Great Southern rail journey which travels from Brisbane to Adelaide via NSW, ACT and Victoria is suspended until January 2021.

Which states can I travel to?

Many state and territory borders have closed to select NSW residents due to the Northern Beaches cluster. Western Australia and South Australia have closed their borders to New South Wales.

  • To Victoria: Borders are closed to all of NSW.
  • To Queensland: Borders are closed to the Northern Beaches and Greater Sydney. All other travellers must submit a Border Declaration Pass and have permission to enter.
  • To Western Australia: Borders are closed to NSW residents and only essential workers may travel to Western Australia.
  • To South Australia: Borders are closed to NSW residents. A mandatory 14-day quarantine is in place for those travelling to the state. A border declaration pass is required to enter the state. Only South Australian residents, essential workers or those who are relocating are exempt from the ban.
  • To Tasmania: Borders are closed to Northern Beaches and Greater Sydney residents. A G2G pass is required to enter for all other residents of NSW.
  • To the ACT: Borders are open to NSW however Northern Beaches, Greater Sydney, Central Coast and Wollongong residents must quarantine for 14 days.
  • To the Northern Territory: Borders are closed to Northern Beaches and Greater Sydney residents.

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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 unless you're a Northern Beaches resident where stay at home rules apply. 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.

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. If you are arriving from another state you may be required to quarantine or self-isolate when you return. Check with your state government's regulations before booking.

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 5 people or less. If you normally live in a household with more than 5 people, you can travel with your household group.

You can gather with other groups, in an open and public setting, of up to 30 people.

Hospitality and religious venues are capped at a maximum of 100 people in Greater Sydney, with the 4 square metre rule in place.

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

While not mandatory everywhere, it's recommended. Some attractions, such as 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 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, you don't need to go into quarantine on your return home from any domestic travel, unless it's from 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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