The federal government announced in early May that Australia was on the pathway to easing coronavirus restrictions thanks to a significant decline in cases. While the federal government has its own roadmap, states and territories have opted to move at their own pace depending on their respective local situations. It can be a little confusing to figure out what you can and can't do still so here's a state-by-state breakdown of the announcements.
New South Wales
NSW took initial steps to ease the heavy restrictions placed on those in the state starting from Friday, 15 May. The changes saw outdoor gathering limits increase and a re-opening of some leisure activities, however, the state's authorities cautioned that infections could rise again because of it.
"Without a vaccine we need to be vigilant, especially when restrictions lift," NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said in a media release.
"There will inevitably be more cases, so social distancing will become even more crucial."
While many restrictions have already been eased, the NSW government made another announcement to outline further easing of restrictions from 1 June:
- outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people
- cafes and restaurants can seat 50 patrons at any one time
- pubs and clubs can seat 50 for sit-down meals and alcohol can be served
- beauty and nail salon operators can have up to 10 clients
- up to 5 visitors to a household at any one time rule remains
- weddings up to 20 guests
- indoor funerals up to 20 mourners, outdoor funerals up to 50
- religious gatherings/places of worship up to 50 worshippers
- use of outdoor equipment remains open with caution
- outdoor pools remain open with restrictions
- museums, galleries and libraries
- regional travel restrictions within the state are lifted
On 2 June, the government announced gyms, saunas and indoor pools would again reopen from 13 June but be restricted to 10 people. In addition to those, tattoo and massage parlours, yoga, pilates and group training sessions would also be allowed to operate with the 10-person limit.
For Queenslanders, the roadmap is a little more comprehensive. Starting from Friday, 15 May, you can have five visitors in your home and you can travel up to 150 kilometres for day trips.
Specifically, the easing restrictions affect:
- Gatherings in homes (max 5 visitors, allowed from separate households)
- Funerals (max 20 indoors or 30 outdoors)
- Recreational travel (max 150kms within your region for day trips)
Gatherings of up to 10 people for the following:
- outdoor, non-contact activity
- personal training
- pools (indoor and outdoor)
- public spaces and lagoons* (e.g. South Bank Parklands, Cairns, Airlie Beach etc)
- parks, playground equipment, skate parks and outdoor gyms
- hiking and other recreational activities in national and state parks
- places of worship and religious ceremonies
The following businesses will also be able to permit 10 people at any one time:
- dining in: restaurants, cafés, pubs, registered and licensed clubs, RSL clubs and hotels – no bars or gaming
- open homes and auctions
- beauty therapy and nail salons (with register of clients and COVID SAFE Plan)
Pending the success of the easing restrictions, stage two of the plan is expected to start from 12 June and will see an incremental lift on outdoor gatherings to 20 as well as the re-opening of cinemas, beauty salons and spas as well as regional travel.
Victoria's response has been a little more cautious than other states but easing restrictions are still being announced.
From 11.59pm on 31 May, Victorians will be able to:
- Up to 20 seated patrons per enclosed space
- Have gatherings indoors and outdoors of up to 20 people in your home at any one time, including the members of your household
- Libraries and community facilities are permitted to open, with no more than 20 people allowed in each separate space
- You will be able to stay in a holiday home, private residence or tourist accommodation, including caravan parks and camping grounds
- Up to 20 people can participate in outdoor group sport and exercise activities
- Indoor and outdoor swimming pools can be opened to a maximum of 20 patrons per swimming pool with a limit of three persons per lane in each pool
- Galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites, outdoor amusement parks, zoos and arcades can have up to 20 customers per separate space
- Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, spas, tattoo parlours and massage parlours can now open with up to 20 patrons
- Up to 20 people in a single undivided indoor space for religious ceremonies
- 20 people in addition to the celebrant and couple being married can attend a wedding
- 50 people can attend an outdoor funeral in addition to the officiant and funeral staff while the limit remains at 20 for funerals held in a home
Pending the success of these restrictions, they will be eased further from 21 June, according to the state government's site.
That will include:
- indoor and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people at any one time, per single undivided space, applying the revised two square metre per person capacity rule for WA venues
- for venues that can fully re-open under stage 3, up to 300 patrons in total at the venue, but with no more than 100 patrons in a single undivided space at any one time (referred to as 100/300 rule) and applying the revised two square metre per patron capacity rule for WA venues.
- food businesses and licensed premises may operate with seated service
- alcohol may be served without a meal (patrons must be seated)
- food courts can reopen with a seated service
- businesses that provide beauty therapy and personal care services (including tanning, waxing, massages, nails services, tattooing and piercing) to reopen in line with the requirements for hairdressers and barbers
- saunas, bath houses, float centres and wellness centres to reopen
- galleries, museums, theatres, auditoriums, cinemas and concert venues can reopen (during any performance, the patrons must be seated)
- Rottnest Island to open (Rottnest ferries are considered public transport)
- The Perth Zoo to open with no patron limit for the whole venue (the 100/300 rule applies to indoor spaces and cafés/restaurants)
- wildlife and amusement parks can reopen
- arcades (including pool/snooker, ten pin bowling, Timezone), skate rinks and indoor play centres to reopen
- auction houses and real estate auctions can reopen
- TAB and other gaming venues (other than the Casino which is being considered separately) are permitted to reopen
- contact sport and training is now permitted
- playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor gym equipment is permitted to be used
- gyms, health clubs, indoor sports centres can open and will be able to offer the normal range of activities provided staff are present, including use of all gym equipment
- travel permitted throughout all of Western Australia (excluding entry into remote Aboriginal communities).
From 29 May, travel restrictions have been eased so you can travel anywhere in Western Australia with the exception of:
- the Kimberley region
- the biosecurity zones in parts of the Shire of East Pilbara that encompass the communities of Jigalong, Martu homeland communities and Kiwirrkurra
- the biosecurity zones of the Shire of Ngaanyatarrak
- remote Aboriginal communities
If you're needing to enter these regions, you'll need to apply for a travel exemption still.
South Australia started its first phase of easing restrictions from 11 May, with a return to allowing regional travel as well as opening up pools, outdoor dining, libraries and camping grounds.
According to the document, a maximum of 10 people are allowed to do the following from now:
- Regional travel
- Uni and TAFE face-to-face tutorials
- Outdoor dining for restaurants and cafes
- Community, youth and RSL halls
- Auctions and inspections
- Local government libraries
- Sport training (outdoor only)
- Funerals (20 indoor / 30 outdoor max)
- Worship, weddings and ceremonies
- Pools (limits apply)
- Campgrounds and Caravan parks
The 10-person limit will increase significantly from 1 June, with a maximum of 80 people allowed to gather at a venue while up to 20 people will be allowed in "any separate room or area". Additionally, the following services will be allowed to re-open:
- Hospitality (seated at a table) at restaurants, cafes, wineries, pubs, breweries, bars
- Cinemas, theatres, galleries and museums
- Beauty, nails, tattoo, non-therapeutic massage
- Driving instruction lessons
- Gyms and indoor fitness (10 participants per class)
- Funerals (50 max room limit)
- Non-contact outdoor sport (competition) (20 max participants)
- Non-contact indoor sport and indoor recreation activities (20 max per room; group classes 10 max participants)
Tasmania started peeling back its restrictions from 18 May, a little later than the mainland. Its second stage of easing wasn't expected to start until 15 June with the final stage penciled in for 13 July but on 2 June, it announced it was pushing those dates forward.
From 3pm on Friday 5 June, the following restrictions for stage one will be eased:
- Gatherings increase to 20 people (except visitors to households, which is capped at 10 people) for indoor and outdoor, including real estate, small religious gatherings and weddings. Funerals can extend to 50 people outdoors.
- Restaurants and cafes in all settings (including restaurants in pubs, clubs, hotels and RSLs) to open and seat patrons of up to 40 people at a time. Seated table service only with physical distancing.
- Border controls remain in place except domestic travelling Tasmanian residents can quarantine in their principal residence if it is suitable. International arrival arrangements remain in place.
- Up to 20 people permitted in accommodation, camping and caravan parks, function centres, open homes and auctions, cinemas, museums, galleries and historic sites, theatres and concert venues, betting shopfronts, indoor gyms and sporting venues, including boot camps, dance studios, gymnastics and cheerleading facilities, health clubs, fitness and wellness centres, including yoga and barre
- Park exercise equipment and playgrounds, pools and boot camps open for up to 20 people.
Northern Territory began lifting its restrictions from 1 May, allowing residents to undertake a number of non-contact recreational activities. It's kick off stage two of the plan on Friday 15 May, which allowed the re-opening of many food and drinks venues as well as community sports and exercise.
From 5 June, the third and final stage for now will re-open even more services and venues.
- Operate all licensed gaming activities including a TAB.
- Resume officiating, participating and supporting the playing of team sports such as football, basketball, soccer and netball.
- Attend any cinema or theatre, concert hall, music hall, dance hall, nightclub or any other similar entertainment venue in approved configuration.
- Attend an amusement venue.
- Attend a bar without food being consumed.
- Operate and access all previously restricted services at a place that provides beauty therapy and/or cosmetic services including facial care.
- Operate and access all previously restricted services at a place that provides tattooing or body art such as branding and piercing.
- Attend an amusement park, community centre, recreation centre or play centre.
- Attend an arena, stadium, sporting facility including community and sporting competitions with spectators in approved seating configuration. However, if above 500 people the event requires a separately approved COVID-19 Safety Plan.
- All businesses, facilities and services previously restricted can now resume ensuring adherence to key principles.
Australian Capital Territory
The ACT had a slight head start on the rest of Australia with some restrictions easing from 11.59pm, 8 May.
They largely included the restrictions mentioned by the federal government but allowed 10-person gatherings and the re-opening of many services. The ACT is about to embark on the next stage given there have been few new cases so from 11.59pm on Friday 29 May 2020, the following restrictions will apply:
- gyms, health clubs, fitness and wellness centres (including yoga, barre, pilates and spin facilities) can reopen with up to 20 people per enclosed space at one time if they can follow physical distancing
- lifting of restrictions on indoor social sport to allow up to 20 people per enclosed space and ensuring there is low contact and limited sharing of equipment
- reopening of galleries, museums and national institutions with groups of no more than 20 people with physical distancing of one person per 4 square metres
- reopening of outdoor attractions such as the National Zoo and Aquarium and Cockington Green to allow groups of no more than 20 people (including children) with physical distancing of 1.5 metres
- reopening of beauty salons and other personal services such as waxing, nail, tattoo and massage services, with a maximum of 20 people in the salons, or physical distancing of one person per 4 square metres, whichever is smaller
- further easing restrictions on cafés, restaurants and other hospitality venues to allow up to 20 patrons per enclosed space or outdoor area if they can abide by physical distancing of one person per 4 square metres and put specific measures in place to manage personal contact.
Update: This article was originally published on 11 May, 2020 but has since been updated to reflect the latest developments from each state and territory.
The Prime Minister has outlined a 'roadmap' for easing restrictions in the country giving many a light at the end of the tunnel. It comes as Australia's coronavirus case count has dropped considerably in the last month owing to tough social restrictions and a ban on foreign travellers from entering the country.