COVID-19 Restrictions Lifting – The Plan in Each State

LAST UPDATED 26 June 2020: The Federal Government has announced their guidance to the states on steps toward lifting COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings and events. However, it is ultimately up to each state and territories to define their own timelines and parameters.

Over two weeks has passed since the National Cabinet agreed to remove the 100-person limit on gatherings in an attempt to restart indoor and outdoor events by July 2020. The 100 person limit on non-essential indoor gatherings is to be replaced with the one person per 4sqm rule, meaning an indoor event’s maximum number of attendees will vary based on the size of the venue. Rules will also vary based on the form of event. The National Cabinet reiterated high risk outdoor events without ticketed seating such as music festivals do not form part of these lifted restrictions.

This represents the final stage of the COVIDSafe Australia 3-step framework. It demonstrates a commitment to reopening business and the community with minimal restrictions, but underpinned by COVIDSafe ways of living.

Below is a look at the current state of play unique to each state:

New South Wales

The New South Wales Government has confirmed it will remove the limit on gatherings from 1 July 2020, with the maximum capacity of indoor venues to be determined by the ‘1 person per 4 square metre’ rule.

All activity must be seated only, and this includes function centres. Cultural and sporting events at outdoor venues with a maximum capacity of 40,000 will be allowed up to 25 percent of their normal capacity, which means events of up to 10,000 attendees can go ahead. Events must be ticketed and seated and follow strict guidelines.

All other restrictions including 20 guests inside the home and 20 for outside gatherings will remain the same.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the government is looking to make considerations for small venues, particularly in regional areas. “The government will also be considering solutions for smaller venues, particularly in regional NSW, where the 4-square-metre rule is not practical for small businesses,” he said.

ACT

The Australian Capital Territory moved to Step 2.2 of its recovery plan on 19 June 2020.

This includes a new maximum of 100 people at indoor and outdoor gatherings, as long as they adhere to the 1 person per 4 square metres rule. Concert venues, theatres, arenas, cinemas, auditoriums and outdoor venues are also now open under Step 2.2.

The ACT Government has not yet confirmed when it will remove the 100 person limit on events, however according to its recovery plan, larger gatherings will be considered from 10 July 2020, while “highest-risk activities and settings”, including conference and convention venues will be considered to reopen post July.

Queensland

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has confirmed the state will move to stage three of lifting restrictions on 10 July, pending review at the end of June. Palaszczuk has not yet confirmed the state’s commitment to removing the 100-person limit on gatherings, and the state’s official roadmap still outlines that gatherings will be capped at 100 people under stage three.

Queensland will allow outdoor stadiums to reopen at 25 per cent capacity from Saturday June 27, which will see a maximum of 10,000 spectators allowed into sporting venues.

The State’s official COVIDSafe roadmap also states people must adhere to the 1 person per 4 square metres rule when indoors.

The Queensland border is also expected to reopen on 10 July, if the state successfully moves to stage three.

On 16 July 2020, the state will increase the limit for funerals to allow up to 100 people to attend, with names of attendees to be recorded.

Victoria

The Victorian Government has originally announced an easing of restrictions commencing on the 22nd of June. But just a week prior the Victorian Government was forced to reconsider and revise this plan given an unexpected resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

Premier Danial Andrews has deferred plans to allow more patrons in restaurants (proposed up to 50), and flagged the possibility of even tougher lockdowns being introduced in the hardest hit areas. Restaurants, pubs, auction halls, community halls, libraries, museums and places of worship remain at a maximum of 20 people in any one space until 12 July.

Victoria has re-established restrictions in line with Step 2 of the 3 stage COVIDSafe Australia roadmap. Outdoor gatherings have reduced to a maximum group of ten people. Indoor home visitors restricted to five people. Easing restrictions to Stage 3 in line with the rest of the country will be reconsidered in mid-to-late July.

South Australia

On 19 June, South Australia moved to ‘Step 2 Plus’ under its State COVIDSafe Roadmap for Easing Restrictions,. This allows up to a maximum of 300 total people to gather at a venue, provided each room or area within the venue is capped at 75 people. Also still subject to the 1 person per 4 square metre rule as the overriding determinant of maximum capacity up to those caps. Outdoor gatherings are capped at 300 people, with the 1 person per 4 square metre rule to be followed.

Travellers entering South Australia directly from Western Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania are no longer required to quarantine.

From 20 July, travellers entering South Australia directly from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Australian Capital Territory will no longer need to quarantine for 14 days. But we suspect a reconsideration of this will occur prior to 20 July given outbreaks in Victoria.

Within South Australia, the state will move to Step 3 of its roadmap from 29 June, when it will remove limits on gatherings completely, and introduce a 1 person per 2 square metres rule instead.

Tasmania

The Tasmanian border remains closed to other states and territories.

On 26 June, Stage 3 restrictions commenced in Tasmania. The key factors in plan sees the number of people permitted to gather now determined by the density of the area, being 1 person per square 2 metres. There is an upper cap at  a maximum of 250 people for an undivided space in an indoor venue and maximum up to 500 people in an undivided space outdoors.

All people in any single undivided space count towards the maximum number of people permitted. For example, staff in a restaurant; spectators at a pool; and athletes and coaches at a sporting facility are all counted within the maximum number of people permitted in that space.

For mixed use venues with multiple indoor or outdoor spaces, the gathering cap (250 people for indoor, or 500 people for outdoor) applies separately to each single undivided space. For example, a large hotel with multiple, separate indoor spaces (eg conference room, bar, restaurant, foyer, beer garden), is permitted to have up to 250 people within each of these spaces (the density limit applies).

Western Australia

Western Australia was the most advanced, moving to Phase 4 on 27 June. The key elements of this stage in their COVIDSafe roadmap results in:

  • All existing gathering limits and the 100/300 rule removed
  • Gathering limits now only determined by WA’s reduced, 1 person per 2sqm rule
  • The 2sqm rule will only include staff at venues that hold more than 500 patrons

Phase 5 is planned to be introduced on 18 July and will result in the removal of the two-square-metre rule, all gathering restrictions and the 50 per cent capacity limit for major venues.

While regional travel is currently permitted within Western Australia, the border remains closed to other states. A tentative date for the border reopening was planned to be included as part of Phase 6, however this has now been put on hold due to the rapidly evolving situation in Victoria.

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory borders are set to officially reopen on 17 July. All interstate travelers will not be required to quarantine for 14 days upon entry. Most restrictions within Northern Territory have been lifted, under stage three of the government’s recovery roadmap.

People in Northern Territory can now attend stadiums, arenas, cinemas, theatres, amusements venues, bars, restaurants and nightclubs in approved configuration. Events and public gatherings of less than 500 people are permitted to go ahead, however organisers must submit a COVID-19 Event Safety Plan prior to the event to demonstrate the commitment to the key principles.

Major events and public gatherings of more than 500 people must also submit a safety plan and will require formal approval from the Northern Territory chief health officer before being allowed to commence.