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 February.
This article should not be treated as legal advice. It will be updated as restrictions are announced, implemented or repealed.
Western Australia lockdown
Western Australia has imposed a five-day lockdown in metropolitan Perth, the Peel region and the state’s south-west covering about 80% of the state’s population. The restrictions took effect at 6pm 31 January after a quarantine hotel worker tested positive to coronavirus.
The lockdown means people can only leaving their house for essential grocery shopping, medical reasons, to care for the vulnerable, or exercise within their neighbourhood. Masks should be worn whenever people leave the house.
You can find more details about the WA lockdown rules here.
How many people can I have over at my house?
New South Wales: residences in greater Sydney, Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Wollongong are allowed a maximum of 30 guests including children. In the rest of the state, 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: you can have up to 30 visitors to your home each day.
Queensland: up to 50 people can gather at a private property, including those who live there.
Tasmania: a maximum of 100 people are allowed to gather at residential premises (including shacks) whether inside or outside.
Western Australia: no visitors are allowed in homes unless caring for a vulnerable person or in an emergency for the duration of the lockdown in the Perth metropolitan area, Peel and south West regions effective from 6pm 31 January until 6pm 5 February.
South Australia: gatherings in private homes are limited to 50 people. All gatherings must observe the density requirements of one person per 2 sq metres.
Northern Territory: there is no limit on how many people can gather indoors or outdoors, but physical distancing is required. Gatherings of more than 100 require the completion of a Covid-19 checklist.
ACT: there is no limit on visitors as long as social distancing rules can be followed.
When do I need to wear a mask?
States and territories have agreed that anyone catching domestic or international flights must wear a mask on the plane and in the airport. Some states have additional mask-wearing requirements to control outbreaks.
New South Wales: in the greater Sydney area, masks are recommended but no longer compulsory at retail shopping venues. Masks must still be worn on public transport, for front-of-house hospitality staff, in places of worship, hairdressers, beauticians and gaming rooms.
Victoria: masks no longer need to be worn in all public indoor settings. They must still be worn on public transport, in a taxi or ride sharing vehicle, in shopping centres and large retail stores.
Queensland: masks are no longer mandatory in greater Brisbane, but people are encouraged to wear masks on public transport, in taxis or ride share vehicles, and in places where social distancing isn’t possible.
Western Australia: masks are to be worn at all times when outside of your home, including at workplaces and on public transport.
How many people can gather outside?
New South Wales: public gatherings in greater Sydney, Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Wollongong of up to 50 people are allowed. In regional NSW, public gatherings of 100 people 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.
Victoria: up to 100 people from any number of households can gather outside. 1.5 metres should be maintained between yourself and others not from your household.
Queensland: 50 people can gather at a private property and a maximum of 100 people can gather in public outdoor spaces. This number includes people from the same household. This does not apply to businesses operating with a Covid-safe plan.
Tasmania: up to 250 people are allowed in an undivided indoor space and up to 1,000 in an outdoor space, as long as there is at least 2 sq metres of space per person.
Western Australia: people in the Perth metropolitan area, Peel and south-west regions are allowed to leave home to exercise within their neighbourhood, but only with one other person and only for one hour per day. Elsewhere in the state, there is no limit on the number allowed at public gatherings as long as there is at least 2 sq metres of space per person.
South Australia: gatherings at public places are capped at 50, with density requirements of one person every 4 sq metres.
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 as long as 2 sq metres of space per person is maintained. If people wish to hold gatherings of greater than 500 people, they must seek an exemption in accordance with the COVID Safe Event Protocol.
Can I visit someone in an aged care facility?
Visitors cannot enter an aged care facility in any state if they have recently been overseas, been in recent contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19, or feel unwell.
New South Wales: visitors are allowed at aged care facilities in NSW. Under NSW Health guidelines, visitors should wear masks.
Victoria: there are no 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 as many visitors as the facility allows. They should also follow Queensland government guidelines for protecting aged care residents. This also applies to aged care facilities in greater Brisbane, since a ban on visitors was lifted on 22 January.
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: in the Perth metropolitan area, Peel and south-west regions, no visitors to hospitals or residential aged care and/or disability facilities are allowed. Elsewhere in the state, each resident can have one care and support visitor 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. Additionally, anyone who visits an aged care facility must have a flu vaccination.
South Australia: people from NSW, greater Brisbane, and people who have been in Covid hotspots are not permitted to visit SA aged care facilities. Aside from that, 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 they 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, as long as venues observe the 4 sq metre per person rule up to a cap of 300 for each separate area at any time. All diners must provide name and contact details, including a phone number or email address, for contact tracing. Food courts have reopened. Nightclubs remain closed.
Victoria: there are specific directions for differently sized indoor venues. Venues are capped subject to a density rule of one person per 2 sq metres, 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 metre per person limit is observed. Diners allowed to stand while eating and drinking, if the venue has a Covid-safe plan in place
Tasmania: up to 250 are allowed in an undivided space as long as there is no more than one person every 2 sq metres. Up to 1,000 people are allowed in an undivided outdoor space, density requirements permitting.
Western Australia: restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars in the Perth, Peel and south-west regions may provide takeaway service only. Pubs, bars and clubs in the aforementioned regions are closed.
South Australia: restaurants, cafes, pubs, food courts, nightclubs and casinos have density requirements of one person per 2 sq metres.
Northern Territory: all businesses can reopen as long as they have a Covid plan.
ACT: restaurants, cafes and other hospitality venues offering seated dining can host up to one person per 4 sq metres. Venues can register to host one person per 2 sq metres.
How far can I travel within my state?
In Western Australia people should not leave Perth, Peel or the South West during this period. People can enter Perth, Peel or the South West only to access or deliver essential health and emergency services and other essential requirements.
Can I visit another state?
New South Wales: anyone can enter NSW. Arrivals from a WA affected area on or after 25 January are advised to get tested and stay at your place of residence or in suitable accommodation unless you have a reasonable excuse to leave until 9pm 5 February. If you have not been tested between 31 January and 5 February, you must isolate until 9pm 14 February.
Victoria: a permit system is in place for travel to Victoria from all parts of Australia. It is based on a traffic light system where different areas are classified red, orange and green. From 23 January all parts of Sydney except the Cumberland local government area in Sydney were downgraded to orange, which means people in these areas are able to travel to Victoria. They’ll need to get a test on arrival and self-isolate until receiving a negative result. The rest of Australia is currently classified green which means you’ll still need to get a permit but no test is required. People who have been in the Perth metropolitan area, the Peel region and the south-west region of Western Australia since 25 January are not allowed to enter Victoria without an exemption or permitted worker permit.
Queensland: 46 Western Australia LGAs and two unincorporated areas are considered Covid-19 hotspots, meaning only returning Queensland residents will be allowed to enter. They will then need to quarantine for two weeks. There are no restrictions on travelling to Queensland from other parts of Australia, including NSW which was removed from the hotspots list on 1 February.
Tasmania: Perth metropolitan region, Peel region, and south-west region in Western Australia are considered high risk areas, meaning travellers who have spent any time there in the past 14 days are not permitted to enter Tasmania, unless approved as an Essential Traveller. The greater Sydney suburbs of Blacktown, Burwood, Canada Bay, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Inner West, Liverpool, Parramatta and Strathfield are no longer be considered medium risk locations and residents from those areas will not have to quarantine. Restrictions still apply for travellers from New Zealand who have visited designated high risk locations.
There are no restrictions on Tasmanians travelling to other states and territories.
Western Australia: from 5 February Victoria will join Queensland and New South Wales as a very low risk state meaning travellers from those states are allowed to enter with a G2G PASS without the need to quarantine.
South Australia: West Australians are not permitted to enter SA unless they are an essential traveller or an SA resident. Those currently in SA who have been in WA since 26 January are required to immediately self-quarantine for 14 days and get tested on days 1, 5 and 12. Anyone travelling to SA must complete a cross-border travel registration. People arriving from greater Sydney, Wollongong and the Central Coast are required to get tested and self-isolate until they receive a negative coronavirus test result. They must also get tested on day five and 12 after arrival.
Northern Territory: the Perth, Peel and south-west regions in Western Australia have been declared active hotspots, requiring anyone who has travelled there to go into mandatory quarantine for two weeks. You can enter from other parts of Australia 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.
ACT: anybody who has been to the Perth metropolitan area or the Peel and south-west regions of Western Australia since 25 January are asked to get tested for Covid-19 and self-quarantine until 9pm on 5 February, even after they have received their test results. All travel restrictions between Canberra and Sydney have been lifted.
How many people can attend a wedding or funeral?
New South Wales: up to 300 can attend a wedding, subject to the 4 sq metre rule indoors. 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 300 providing there is at least 4 sq metre per person. This applies to indoor and outdoor ceremonies. Those attending will have to provide name and contact details. In greater Sydney – which includes the Central Coast and the Blue Mountains – singing is limited to five people at any indoor venue including choirs or places of worship.
Victoria: Weddings and funerals are subject to a one person per 2 sq metres density rule, with no other caps. A wedding or funeral held at a private residence is limited to up to 30 people. The four-square metre rule must be applied to limit the number of people on the dance floor and there can only be up to 50 people on the dance floor at one time, if space allows.
Queensland: up to 200 can attend weddings and funerals at a professional venue or private residence as long as a Covidsafe plan is in place. Private wedding services in public areas or private homes can have up to 100 people in outdoor public spaces and 50 people in private properties. A record of names and contact details of each guest must be kept for 56 days.
Tasmania: in commercial spaces, 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 metres. Up to 100 people can gather at private residences. Rules apply to the number of people allowed to consume alcohol while standing.
Western Australia: no weddings are permitted and funerals are limited to 10 people in the Perth, Peel and south-west regions. There are no limits elsewhere in the state as long as there is no more than one person every 2 sq m.
South Australia: weddings at commercial venues are capped at 200 people, with a maximum of one person per 2 sq metres, and dancing is permitted. At a private residence, 50 people are allowed per house. The same limits apply to funerals.
Northern Territory: there is no limit but gatherings of more than 100 will be required to complete a Covid-19 checklist.
ACT: the maximum number of people who can attend a wedding is 500 people, not including celebrants and staff. If using the Check In CBR app, the one person per 2 sq metres rule in indoor and outdoor space applies. If not using the app, the one person for 4 sq metre rule applies.
Organisers for events for between 201 and 500 people are required to notify ACT Health and submit their Covid-safe plan (via the online form), and events over 500 will need an exemption in accordance with the Covid-safe Event Protocol. 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 100, and the 4 sq metre physical distancing rule must be observed. An outdoor religious service is subject to the one person per 2 sq metre rule.
Victoria: religious gatherings are subject to a one person per 2 sq metres density rule, with no other caps.
Queensland: places of worship can have one person per 2 sq metres.
Tasmania: up to 250 can gather in an undivided indoor space, as long as there are 2 sq metres per person.
Western Australia: large religious gatherings are unable to go ahead and places of worship are closed in the Perth, Peel and south-west regions. In other parts, attendance is limited only by the 2 sq metre rule.
South Australia: capped at 200. Attendance is limited only by the one person per 2 sq metre rule.
Northern Territory: there is no limit on how many can attend at the same time but social distancing should be observed.
ACT: capped at 25 people across the entire venue. If a venue wants to have more than 25 people, it can have one person per two square metres of usable space in each indoor and outdoor space (excluding staff) provided they are using the Check In CBR app.
Are schools back in session?
Schools are back in session except in the Perth, Peel and south-west regions of Western Australia where schools are closed for the week of 1-5 February with the commencement of Term 1 postponed. The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) released health advice for schools encouraging physical distancing and for parents to keep children at home when sick.
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. Businesses must meet density limits, and, in South Australia, service providers must wear a mask. In Victoria, masks are strongly recommended for both the client and the person providing the service.
Beauty therapy services, parlour or salon including hairdressers, barbershop, nail salon, tattoo parlour, spa and massage parlours are closed in the Perth, Peel and south-west regions.
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 square 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.
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 Covid-safe plan.
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 metre rule permitting. Up to 1,000 are allowed in each undivided outdoor space.
Western Australia: cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, libraries and cultural institutions are closed in the Perth, Peel and south-west regions.
South Australia: venues are open, but density requirements must be observed, with a maximum of one person per 2 sq metres 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 are 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 2 sq metres throughout the venue as long as the venue has the Check In CBR app.
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 30 a class. The total in a facility must not exceed one person in 4 sq metres, excluding staff. Outside of greater Sydney, gym classes can have up to 50 participants. Indoor pools and saunas have also reopened subject to the one person per 4 sq metre rule in greater Sydney and one person per 2 sq metre rule in regional NSW. Community sporting competitions and training can go ahead as long as the number in a facility does not exceed one person every 4 sq metres, 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: 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 4 sq metre density rule when staffed and the one per 8 sq metres when unstaffed. Outdoor sport recreational facilities, such as tennis courts, golf courses or bowling greens, are open with some restrictions. Outdoor and indoor pools have opened, with restrictions on capacity.
Queensland: gyms, health clubs, yoga studios and community sports clubs can open for up to one person per 2 sq metres. People can gather outside (capped at 20 people in greater Brisbane), 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: gatherings are limited to 1,000 people in the outdoors of a premises for community sport and 250 for an undivided space in an indoor premises, or a maximum of one person per 2 sq metres. Indoor pools are limited to 250 people in each single undivided space, or a maximum of one person per 2 sq metres. Outdoor pools are limited to a maximum of 1,000 people in the whole outdoor area of premises, or a maximum of one person per 2 sq metres.
Western Australia: gyms and indoor sporting venues, in addition to playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor recreational facilities are closed in the Perth, Peel and south-west regions. Residents in these regions may exercise within their neighbourhood, but only with one other person and only for one hour per day. Elsewhere in WA, gyms, health clubs, and indoor sports centres can reopen for up to one person per 2 sq metres. Gyms can operate unstaffed but must undergo regular cleaning. Contact sport and training has recommenced, and playgrounds, outdoor gym equipment and skate parks can be used.
South Australia: sport (including sports training), fitness and recreation activities are all subject to the one person per 2 sq metres rule.
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: gyms and fitness centres are open to up to 500 people, subject to the one person per 2 sq m rule if they have the Check In CBR app and 4 sq metres per person if they don’t. Full contact training for sport, dance and martial arts, as well as circuit training, is allowed.
Who decides if I am breaking the new laws?
Generally, enforcement is left up to the discretion of police officers.
States have taken different approaches. For example, the ACT says it will issue a warning while Victoria has adopted a more hardline attitude to those breaking social distancing rules.
The 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 fines 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.