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The three-step plan to reopen Australia: What you can and can’t do

We break down the lockdown restrictions and state roadmaps toward a COVIDSafe Australia.

Updated . What changed?

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Man ducks bellow his daughter as he gives her a big push on a public park swing set

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed a three-step plan to ease restrictions across the nation. In it are the baby steps that will be taken in order to return back to normalcy.

These steps detail the number of people allowed to visit households, maximum outdoor gathering numbers, the venues that are permitted to reopen, whether employees can return to work or not and where people can travel.

Roadmap to COVIDSafe Australia

Step 1

  • 5 visitors at home, 10 in business and public places – this is regardless of age, so you can't have 5 adults and 5 children visiting a home
  • You can have 10 people in a business or public place
  • Work from home if it works for you and your employer
  • Restaurants, cafes, shopping, home sales and auctions may reopen
  • Libraries, community centres, playgrounds and outdoor bootcamps may reopen
  • Local and regional travel is allowed
  • Physical distancing rules still apply
  • All hygiene rules, including washing your hands regularly, staying at home if you feel sick and being tested even if your symptoms are mild still apply

Step 2

  • You can have gatherings of up to 20 outside of a home. These numbers may be larger in some states and territories than others, depending on the circumstance
  • Work from home if it works for you and your employer
  • Gyms, beauty therapies, cinemas, theatres, amusement parks, galleries and museums may reopen
  • Some interstate travel is allowed
  • Physical distancing rules still apply
  • All hygiene rules, including washing your hands regularly, staying at home if you feel sick and being tested even if your symptoms are mild still apply

Step 3

  • You can have gatherings of up to 100 people. As of 12 June, this rule has been replaced with the four square per metre rule. This means that venues can welcome can accommodate a maximum of one person per four square metres.
  • Workers may return to the workplace
  • Cross-Tasman, Pacific Island travel and international student travel may be considered
  • Food courts, saunas and bathhouses may reopen
  • All interstate travel is allowed
  • Physical distancing rules still apply
  • All hygiene rules, including washing your hands regularly, staying at home if you feel sick and being tested even if your symptoms are mild still apply

While there's no definitive timeframe for each step to be complete, Morrison said: "It is our goal to move through all of these steps to achieve that COVID-safe economy in July of this year."

Understandably, not every state will be at the same stage at the same time. To this, Morrison said that "states can, and will, move at their own pace". As such, states and territories are to decide for themselves when these changes will come into effect. The movement from each step will depend on medical advice, widespread testing and the ability to trace and trap outbreaks.

To ensure you're keeping safe, here's a breakdown of the specific rules state by state and when they'll come into effect. To reiterate, all spatial distancing and hygiene practices still apply.

NSW travel restrictions and lockdown rules

Step 3's permissions came into affect from 13 June. However, on 14 July some restrictions were scaled back around pubs. On 24 July this rule was extended to cafes, restaurants and all other hospitality venues.

At the moment, the following are allowed:

Travel and recreation

  • Regional and interstate travel for holiday purposes. At present ACT and Victoria have reopened their borders domestically, without the need for quarantine.
  • Caravan parks and camping grounds may reopen, without shared facilities.
  • All accommodation may reopen.
  • Holiday homes and holiday rentals can have a maximum of 20 people, unless everyone is a member of the same household.
  • Venues, including pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes, can seat up to 300 people at one time. A four-square metre per person rule applied. A maximum group number of 10 is permitted in pubs and all customers details must be taken at any venue. Otherwise, group numbers arae capped at 20.
  • Tourist attractions such as zoos and aquariums may open, adhering to the 4 square metre rule. Tours are capped at 20 visitors and indoor cinemas on the premises must remain closed.
  • Libraries, art galleries and museums may reopen, capped at one person per 4 square metres. All indoor cinemas on the premises must remain closed.
  • Drive-in cinemas may reopen with no restrictions.
  • The NSW alpine region will reopen from 22 June for skiers and snowboarders. It's mandatory to pre-book of ski lift passes.
  • National Parks are open with no capacity restrictions.
  • Outdoor activities such as BMX biking and fishing are allowed. Gold and lawn bowls must have no more than 20 peopel gathered.
  • Boat cruises, watersports and marine tours can recommence with vessels allowing no more than 50 customers.
  • Vessels used for functions or commercial tours are capped at 50pax or no more than one person per four square metres.

Everyday activities

  • Up to 20 visitors in a household at one time, regardless of age. Overnight stays are permitted.
  • Outdoor gatherings of up to 20 people, including the use of outdoor equipment and playgrounds.
  • Weddings up to 150 guests are permitted. This excludes the people conducting or assisting in the wedding. A four square metre rule applies.
  • Religious service are limited to 100 patrons. A four square metre per person rule applies.
  • Funerals are limited to 100 patrons or the four square metre per person rule.
  • Beauty and nail salons may reopen so long as they adbide by these strict hygiene requirements. Capacity must not exceed 20 clients or one person per 4 square metres.
  • Tattoo and massage parlours have reopen with no more than 20 clients at one time or one customer per four square metres.
  • Hairdressers and barbers are open, complying with the 4 square per metre rule.
  • Food courts may open to up to 50 people, in line with the 4 square metre rule.
  • Outdoor pools can open with capacity capped at one person per four square metres.
  • Indoor sports and facilities, including gyms, bowling alleys, pools, health studios and ice rinks can open capped at no more than one person per four square metres.
  • Childcare facilities, schools, universities and TAFE may open.
  • Betting agenies may reopen with no more than 20 customers at one time or one customer per four square metres.
  • Auction houses may reopen. Numbers are restricted by the 4 square metre rule.
  • Community centres with a maximum of one person per four square metres. All classes are capped at 20 participants.
  • Kids sports and community sports may recommence. Any sports event with over 20 participants must have a COVID-19 safetly plan. Events are capped at 500 participants.
  • Corporate venues cannot exceed 150 people. A four square metre per person rule applies.
  • Outdoor cultural and sporting events must run at 25% of its normal capacity or 10,000 persons, which ever is lesser. Events must be ticketed and seated.

Amusement parks and entertainment facilities such as night clubs are still closed.

Victoria travel restrictions and lockdown rules

On 8 July metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire were deemed hotspots and both placed into lockdown. You may only leave you home for essential reasons such as grocery shopping, medical care, exercise and work or study if it can't be done at home. When you do leave your home you must wear a mask and you may only travel a distance of 5km.

All non-essential services are closed. This includes retail stores and beauty services. Restaurants and cafes are permitted to offer takeaway and delivery only. Residents in these hotspots may not have visitors nor are they allowed to make social calls.

A curfew has is in place where residents in these hotspots may not leave their home between 8pm and 5am unless for work, medical or caregiving reasons.

Outside of these hotspots, the following are permitted in Victoria:

Travel and recreation

  • Regional travel is allowed and it's advised that you avoid COVID-19 hotspots where possible. If you are or have entered a hotspot you must quarantine for 14 days. You are permitted to drive through a hotspot without quarantining. Current hotspots can be found here.
  • All interstate borders are closed to Victorians due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
  • Accommodation, including campgrounds and caravan parks can reopen and communal facilities may be used.
  • You may stay in your holiday home or private residence.
  • Select national and state parks may reopen.
  • Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people. This includes outdoor group sports such as hiking, golf, fishing, kick-to-kick games and outdoor boot camps and activities such as theme parks, zoos and market stalls.
  • Restaurants and cafes are open for dine-in for up to 20 seated patrons, complying with the 4 square metre rule. Diners must be seated and groups limited to six people. Food is not required to have a drink.
  • Indoor venues such as galleries, museums, libraries, zoos, cinemas, theatres and concert venues can reopen with a maximum of 20 people at one time. This is subject to the 4 square metre per person rule.
  • Outdoor spaces in zoos, amusement parks and arcades have a maximum cap based on the 4 square metre per person rule.
  • Drive in cinemas.
  • Ski resorts have reopened with numbers restrictions and social distancing in place.

Everyday activities

  • The number of visitors allowed in a home has been reduced to 5; this is on top of the members of the household. As of 30 July, residents of Colac Otway, Greater Geelong, Surf Coast, Moorabool, Golden Plains and the Borough of Queenscliffe may not entertain visitors at their home. They can however gather in groups of 10 outside of it
  • Outdoor/social gatherings are limited to 10 people.
  • Indoor gathering limits are set at 20. This applies to places beauty, personal care services and community facilities. The 4 square metre rule applies. This number may be revised on 12 July.
  • Indoor sports and recreation activities may resume capped at 20 person per space or up to 10 people per group class.
  • Public playgrounds, outdoor gyms and skateparks are reopen.
  • Weddings of up to 20 guests - in addition to the celebrant and couple.
  • Funerals of up to 50 people, in addition to funeral staff.
  • Places of worship can open for up to 20 people in each separate area.
  • Professional sport training.
  • Contact sports training and competition can resume for people 18 and under.
  • Non-contact sport may resume, including skiing and snowboarding.
  • The number of people at indoor and outdoor pools increases to 20 with no max on the number of people per lane.
  • Change rooms and showers may reopen at clubs and sports venues, capped at 20 people per indoor space.
  • Primary and high school students are to return to school.
  • Depending on the circumstance, residents in care may welcome upt o two support visitors daily. All visitors must now wear masks. A full breakdown is here.
  • Retail betting facilties may reopen subject to the 4 metre rule with a max cap of 20pax.

Anyone who can work from home should continue working from home.

University, collage and TAFE students should continue learning from home.

Upcoming changes

Select step 3 relaxations commenced at on 21 June. However, gathering limits were pushed back due to Victoria's second wave in July. These steps have yet to be taken into affect:

  • The number of guests in a space will increase to 50. This applies to venues such as restaurants, cafes, galleries, and community facilities and is subject to the 4 square per metre rule. These maximum limits are expected to increase to 100 in the second half of July.
  • Zoos and outdoor parks and arcades can have up to 50 patrons indoors and a max cap based on the one person per 4 square metre rule. Groups are limited to 20pax.
  • Indoor cinemas, concert venues, theatres and auditoriums may reopen to 50 seated patrons, as long as it doesn't exceed the 4 square metre rule.
  • Places of worship can accept 50 people per separate area, capped at 20 people per group.

From 20 July gaming at pubs, clubs and casinos can recommence with social distancing in place.

ACT travel restrictions and lockdown rules

The ACT is currently in step 2.2 of its recovery plan, which commenced on 19 June 2020. The following are permitted, all with a four square metre per person rule in mind.

Travel and recreation

  • Regional travel.
  • Interstate travel is permitted. NSW and Victoria are both open without the need for quarantine.
  • Restaurants, cafes and hospitality venues may reopen with a maximum of 100 patrons, excluding staff. Pubs and clubs may also reopen for seated dining. Drinks do not need to be accompanied by a meal.
  • Cinemas, movie theatres, indoor amusement centres, play centres, concert venues and betting agencies may reopen with with a maximum of 100 patrons.

Everyday activities

  • 20 visitors may gather inside or outside your home from a maximum of two households.
  • Gatherings of up to 100 people permitted including in beauty parlours, weddings, religious ceremonies, gyms, bootcamps, community and social sport, open houses and auctions and beauty treatments.
  • Weddings of up to 20 guests - including the celebrant.
  • Funerals may have up to 50 attendees - excluding the person conducting the service.
  • Full contact trainig for all sports.
  • Universities can provide face to face learning.

You may still work from home if agreed upon by your employer.

Upcoming changes

Stage 3 of the restriction ease has yet to commence. When it does it will include the following:

  • Larger group gathering numbers.
  • Return to full contact competition for all sports.
  • Food courts, saunas, steam-based beauty services, strip clubs, brothels and escort services may return.

Large crowd venues as well as casinos and gambling are under consideration. More to come.

Queensland travel restrictions and lockdown rules

From noon on 3 July, Stage 3 in Queensland's CovidSafe roadmap commenced. The current permissions are below:

Travel and recreation

  • Unlimited recreational travel and stays within Queensland.
  • Restaurant, cafes, pubs, clubs, RSLs, hotels and casinos (no gaming) may reopen, all patrons must be seated. The maximum is 20 patrons per room or defined area.
  • Indoor cinemas may reopen.
  • Museums, art galleries, historic sites, libraries and cinemas may reopen, limited only by the 4 square metre rule.
  • Tourism accommodation may reopen.
  • Hiking is permitted.
  • Outdoor amusement parks, tourism experiences, zoos and arcades may reopen.
  • Concert venues, theatres, arenas, auditoriums and stadiums may reopen running at 50% capacity or one person per 4 square metres.
  • Large venues may recommence with a COVID Safe plan. All events with 500+ people must have their event approved by a health authority.

Everyday activities

  • 20 visitors are allowed in a home; these may be from separate households.
  • Gatherings of 100 people are allowed. This includes weddings, outdoor and indoor non-contact activities, personal training, pools, health clubs, yoga studios, public spaces, parks, playgrounds, skateparks, outdoor gyms, places of worship and religious services.
  • Funerals of up to 50 people are allowed.
  • Shops may reopen with a maximum capacity that complies with the 4 square metre rule.
  • Venues smaller than 200 square metres may reopen with a 2 square metre rule up to 50pax.
  • Open homes and auctions may reopen.
  • Beauty therapy, nail salons, hairdressers, tattoo parlours and spas may reopen.
  • Sport and recreation may recommence with a COVID Safe plan which must include physical distancing and capacity limits.
  • Casinos, gaming and gambling venues as well as nightclubs and beauty parlours may reopen with a COVID Safe plan.
  • Office workers may return to work.

Upcoming changes

Density requirements are next to be reviewed as well as any high-risk events that have not yet been address. There is no set date for this review.

The Queensland state borders are open to all of Australia, except Victoria and NSW hotspots.

South Australia travel restrictions and lockdown rules

From midnight 4 August, tougher restrictions will be reintroduced across South Australia. Gathering limits inside private homes will be reduced from 50 to 10. Restaurants and pubs may only serve alochol to seated patrons.

Everywhere else, the maximum number of patrons in a space is limited by the 1 person per 2 square metre rule. Any non-defined public activity must not exceed a 75pax indoors and 300pax outdoors.

Physical distancing of 1.5 metres still applies throughout the state.

This is what else is allowed in South Australia:

Travel and recreation

  • Hospitality venues including restaurants, cafes, pubs, wineries and food courts may reopen.
  • Cinemas, theatres, galleries and museums may reopen.
  • Nightclubs and music festivals may recommence.
  • State borders to Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and Northern Territory are open.
  • Gaming rooms and facilities in pubs and casinos may reopen.
  • South Australians will not be allowed to return to the state when coming from Victoria. Cross border community travel may be possible for those residing within 40km of the border.

Everyday activities

  • Beauty services such as nail salons, tattoo parlours, massages, wellness centres, spas, saunas and bathing may reopen.
  • Gyms and other indoor fitness may reopen.
  • Funerals up to 100 people.
  • Driving instruction lessons.
  • Indoor and outdoor sport permitted, including on a competition level.
  • Indoor play centres as well as amusement parks may reopen.

State border openings for NSW, Victoria and ACT are currently closed with no set date to reopen yet.

Travel restrictions on international students are in talks of being eased.

Northern Territory travel restrictions and lockdown rules

As at noon 5 June, the Northern Territory entered Stage 3 of its COVIDSafe roadmap. As part of this stage the territory now allows:

Travel and recreation

  • All regional travel for residents, including to East Arnhem Land.
  • Fishing with a mate.
  • Restaurants, cafes, clubs and bars, including licensed gaming, may reopen with no time limt restrictions. Alcohol does not need to be accompanied with a meal.
  • Cinemas, theatres, concert halls, music halls, dance halls, nightclubs and similar venues.
  • Community recreation centres and amusement parks.
  • Public libraries, toy libraries, galleries and museums.
  • Arena, stadium and sporting facilities may reopen with spectators. Any events with more than 500 people at the event must have an approved COVID-19 Safety Plan.
  • From 19 June, Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Kakadu National Parks will be reopen.

All major events are being approved on a case-by-case basis.

The Chief Minister Michael Gunner has confirmed that the Northern Territory borders will reopen on 17 July to all interstate travellers.

Everyday activities

  • Playgrounds, parks, public skateparks, pools and outdoor gyms to be open.
  • Outdoor religious gatherings including weddings and funerals.
  • Open house inspections and auctions.
  • All team sports, including football, basketball, soccer and netball.
  • All beauty services, including nail salons, hairdressers, laser and cosmetic surgeries and beauty and tattoo parlours/
  • Gyms, yoga, Pilates, massages.
  • Indoor religious gatherings, including weddings and funerals. A 2-hour time limit applies.
  • Outdoor sports training. A 2-hour time limit applies.

Western Australia travel restrictions and lockdown rules

Western Australia entered Phase 4 of its COVIDSafe roadmap on 27 June. Currently the state allows:

Travel and recreation

  • Travel throughout Western Australia, including Rottnest Island and the Kimberley Region. However, travel to remote Aboriginal communitues is still prohibited.
  • Restaurants and cafés including pubs, bars, clubs, hotels and casino may reopen. A 2 square metre per person rule applies.
  • Alcohol may be served without a meal and in a standing capacity.
  • Recreational activities such as picnics, hiking, camping and fishing.
  • Public playgrounds, outdoor gym equipment, skate parks, cinemas, galleries, zoos, museums, amusement parks, wildlife parks, arcades, shake rinks, indoor play centres, concert venues and community facilities may reopen. The 100/300 rule applies to seated performances and indoor spaces.
  • Major sporting events may resume at 50% capacity.

Daily activities

  • Gathering limits based on the 2 square metre per person rule. This excludes staff in venues of 500 or less.
  • All events, including weddings and funerals are permitted, except large music festivals.
  • Food and beverage venues, including food courts, may reopen with no seating requirements.
  • Beauty therapy and personal care services permitted. This includes nail, tanning and waxing salons.
  • Saunas, bath houses, wellness centres, spas and massages may reopen.
  • Gyms, health clubs and indoor sport centres may reopen.
  • Indoor and outdoor contact community sport permitted, with gathering limits.
  • Face-to-face auction houses and real estate auctions permitted.
  • TAB and casinos may reopen for betting and watching.
  • Parents and guardians may enter school grounds to pick-up and drop off children.

Phase 5, which sees all restrictions removed, is anticipated to come into effect on 29 August.

Tasmania travel restrictions and lockdown rules

Tasmania is now in Stage 3 of its COVID roadmap. The following now applies:

Travel and recreation

  • Overnight trips across the state are permitted.
  • Camping, overnight boating and shacks may reopen for up to 20 people.
  • All accommodation may reopen, with common areas limited to 20 people and the one person per four square metre rule.
  • You may stay in holiday homes/
  • National Parks to reopen for exercise and travel purposes.
  • Restaurants and cafes can open to a maximum of 40 people and can serve drinks only.
  • Museums, function centres, cinemas, museums, galleries, historic sites, theatres and concert venues may reopen for a maximum of 20 people at one time.
  • Boating is permitted.
  • Markets, bars, night clubs and casinos may reopen.
  • Food courts and food vans can reopen.

Daily activities

  • 20 visitors may gather inside a home.
  • Gatherings limits are determined by a density limit of 2 square metres per person. This is capped at 250 people in an indoor space or 500 in an outdoor space. This includes:
    • Beauty services such as facials, nail salons and tattoo studios;
    • Sporting venues including outdoor exercise equipment, playgrounds, indoor and outdoor sports, dance studios, bootamps and gynmastics;
    • Health clubs and wellness facilities including yoga studios and barre;
    • Auctions and open houses.
  • Funerals of up to 50 people are allowed.
  • Aged care homes are allowed 2 people per visit with no time restrictions. Multiple visits per day are permitted.
  • All students may return for face-to-face teaching.
  • Racing may resume.
  • Spas and bathouses may reopen.

As we are still in a pandemic, you must still work from home if it works for you and your employer.

Upcoming changes:

  • Aged care homes are allowed 5 visitors and multiple visits.
  • Tasmania opens its borders on 7 August to Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. There is no set date for it to open up to the rest of Australia.

The Cabinet is reviewing the stages every three weeks. And while some states have noted their plans for Steps 2 and 3, these are all subject to change depending on the advice of health authorities.

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