As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, Australian states and territories continue to update their restrictions.

Victoria, NSW and Queensland continue to monitor small cluster outbreaks, affecting venue capacity and social distancing regulations. The other states and territories continue to make strides to a ‘new norm’ of restrictions. Here’s our round-up of the latest rules across Australia.

Australian Capital Territory

Three venue capacity rules apply, subject to density restrictions being met:

Option One: 25 people (excluding staff) across whole venues.

Option Two [Where Check In CBR app is used]: venues can have one person per two square metres of usable space (excluding staff) in each indoor and outdoor space, with a maximum of 500 people for each space.

Option Three [Where Check In CBR app is NOT used]: Venues can have one person per four square metres of usable space in each indoor space and one person per two square metres of usable space (excluding staff) in each outdoor space, with a maximum of 500 people for each space.

Businesses must not exceed the capacity limit that applies under standard liquor or fire occupancy loading and regulatory conditions of the venue.

The ACT Government introduced the Check In CBR app in November 2020. It is a contactless, secure and convenient way for customers to sign into a Canberra venue.

New South Wales

As of Wednesday 13 January 2021, patron check-in at hospitality venues, including casinos, food and drink premises, micro-breweries, small distilleries, pubs, small bars and registered clubs must be completed using NSW Government Service app.

The COVID Safe Check-in tool allows customers, staff and visitors to check in at businesses across NSW, and helps organisations to remain COVID safe and meet requirements for the accurate collection of customer contact details.

This data protects the community in allowing contact tracing by NSW Health.

It is currently mandatory for staff who deal directly with the public to wear a face mask in hospitality venues, including any part of premises licensed under the Liquor Act 2007 that is used primarily for the purposes of gaming.

Venue operators must generally ensure there is at least four square metres of space for each person on the premises or in the area, as applicable.

Businesses that prepare and serve food and drink to customers on the premises or for takeaway need to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan for their specific venue type.

Capacity: A maximum of 300 people, subject to the one person per four square metres rule applies for each separate area of a hospitality venue. Children count towards the capacity limit.

For hospitality venues with more than one separate area, this maximum applies per separate area.

At the time of publishing, Nightclubs in NSW must remain closed.

There remains a maximum of 30 people for a group booking and 30 people at a table at a hospitality venue, which includes casinos, food and drink premises, micro-breweries, small distilleries, pubs, registered clubs and small bars.

Significant events held at outdoor hospitality venues may apply the one person per two square metres rule. The events are still subject to a maximum of:

  • 300 people for hospitality venues,
  • 100 people for weddings subject to the same indoor and outdoor square metre rules as applied to hospitality venues,
  • 100 people for funerals and memorial services.

People attending the service or events will be required to supply their name and contact details so that they can be used for contact tracing.

From the beginning of Sunday 10 January 2021, all Northern Beaches residents are to follow the restrictions for Greater Sydney.

Northern Territory

NT has been in Stage Three of its roadmap since 5 June, which allows:

Operate all licensed gaming activities including a TAB.

Attend a bar without food being consumed.

Restaurants, cafes and bars (a food business) can operate without restrictions but must:

  • Have a COVID-19 safety plan
  • Appoint a COVID Safety Supervisor
  • Collect the contact details of any person attending the premises for longer than 15 minutes.
  • practising hand hygiene by washing hands or using hand sanitiser
  • staying home if feeling unwell
  • downloading the COVIDSafe app.

Capacity: Event and public gatherings are subject to:

Less than 100 people – Events with less than 100 people do not require completion of a checklist or safety plan, however the physical distancing and hygiene principles should still be considered and implemented.

100 to 500 people – Events and public gatherings of 100 to 500 people must complete a COVID-19 safety checklist.

More than 500 people – Major events and public gatherings of over 500 people must submit a COVID-19 Event Safety Plan and receive formal approval from the Chief Health Officer prior to the event proceeding.


New restrictions are in place from 6pm AEST 11 January 2021 to 1am 22 January 2021, the Greater Brisbane region will be subject to new restrictions.

Cafes, pubs and restaurants can operate in line with the density requirements determined by their venue size for seated patrons only. Patrons do not need to wear a mask when in the dining section of a hospitality venue. Staff who interact with patrons must wear a mask while in the dining section of a hospitality venue.

All businesses may now have one person per four square metres on their premises indoors, or one person per two square metres outdoors. Businesses with a floor space less than 200 square metres can have one person per two square metres, with up to 50 people at a time.

They can also operate for takeaway and home delivery service. Contact details do not have to be collected for takeaway customers.

Indoor events can operate with a COVID Safe Checklist for up to 500 people and outdoor events can operate with a COVID Safe Checklist for 1000 people.

South Australia

Hospitality venue restrictions have eased since late 2020 and currently allow:

  • The total number of people at a place must not exceed one person per two square metres.
  • Food and beverages can be consumed while standing up.
  • If people are sitting at a bar, there must be no food preparation taking place.
  • Private functions are also one person per two square metres.
  • Venues must have a COVID-Safe Plan.

Attendance at pubs, clubs and restaurants continue to be capped at 200 people per venue.

Physical distancing, or social distancing principles apply. Every person should attempt to stay at least 1.5 metres from other members of the public. However, this does not apply to people who live together, who are friends or family members, or people who regularly associate with each other.


The number of people permitted at businesses/activities (other than households) is now determined by the density of the area, up to a maximum of:

  • 250 people for an undivided space in an indoor premises; and
  • 1,000 people in an undivided space outdoors.
  • The maximum density limit is one person per two square metres.
  • Business restrictions allow standing activities – like darts, pool, eight-ball, snooker and karaoke – in licensed venues.

Where the number of people permitted according to the density limit is less than the gathering limit, the lower number applies.

The maximum number of people permitted on a premises includes staff, volunteers, children and babies.

From Friday 1 January 2021, outdoor spectator sporting events will be enabled to increase their capacity from 50 per cent to 75 per cent of their seated capacity.

Business restrictions have changed to allow standing activities – like darts, pool, eight-ball, snooker and karaoke – in licensed venues.

Standing and drinking alcohol and/or dancing is permitted in premises with a liquor licence or liquor permit up to a maximum of 100 people in indoor spaces and 250 people in outdoor spaces, within current density requirements.

Patrons in other parts of the premises or event can also consume alcohol while sitting down, subject to density requirements.

For example, a venue with a maximum density capacity of 200 can have 100 people dancing, however the other 100 people must be seated to be drinking alcohol.

This cap on the number of people permitted to stand while drinking alcohol and/or dancing is required because large numbers of people mixing freely and closely while consuming alcohol are very high-risk settings for spreading COVID-19.

Patrons at all hospitality venues, including restaurants, cafés, pubs and clubs are required to provide contact details of at least one member of their group to the venue.

This applies to all licensed venues where patrons stay 15 minutes or more, so includes cellar doors and gaming venues.

Venues can use either their own process to record contact details, or a form available through the WorkSafe Tasmania website.


Restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars and nightclubs can open for outdoor and indoor seated service of food or drink but patrons must wear a fitted face mask unless you have a lawful reason not to.

Dance floors can open in pubs and bars. Venues must apply a four square metre rule to the dance floor, with a maximum of 50 people dancing at one time per dance area (such as in a nightclub with multiple dance floors).

Indoor and outdoor seated entertainment venues can open for up to 75 per cent of seating capacity up to 1,000 patrons. For non-seated areas, venues can use the two square metre rule if using electronic record keeping. If using paper-based records, the four square metre rule applies.

Indoor non-seated entertainment venues can open for up to 50 per cent of capacity (up to a maximum of 1,000 patrons).

Casinos can open. The four square metre rule must be applied. Electronic records must be kept. Gaming tables and machines must be at least 1.5m apart. COVID Marshals must be onsite during operating hours.

Large venues that host more than 500 people at one time must publish their COVIDSafe Plans online.

Live music is allowed in bars, restaurants and cafes. Outdoor live music is recommended and if indoors, ensure the room is well ventilated.

Full details on the four and two square metre rules are available on the Victoria Government’s COVID-19 website.

Western Australia

Phase Four of the WA Roadmap has remained in effect since Saturday 27 June 2020.

There is no limit on the number of patrons permitted in a venue, however, the two square metre rule and physical distancing apply. This means the maximum number of patrons permitted will be based on the size of the venue.

Large hospitality venues that can hold more than 500 patrons need to include staff in their patron count.

Unseated performances are also permitted at venues such as concert halls, live music venues, bars, pubs and nightclubs.

All venues must:

  • Maintain a strict limit of a minimum of two square metres (2sqm) per patron (excluding staff);

Venues must maintain a minimum of two square metres (2sqm) per person (including staff) if they meet the following criteria:

Have an area accessible to the public of greater than 1,000sqm; AND are a:

  • Pub, bar or club; or
  • Hotel (except bottleshop and accommodation); or
  • Restaurant or café; or
  • Gaming or gambling venue; or
  • Entertainment venue of any other kind (stadiums, theatres, arenas, function centres, convention centre)

This is to ensure physical distancing can be maintained in larger venues.

There should be a minimum distance of 1.5m between each table or different groups of patrons. Tables should be arranged to maintain this requirement. Venue layout may need to be adjusted throughout the day to accommodate different sized groups and ensure physical distancing principles can be followed.

Venues should provide groups with sufficient table space to enable physical distancing.

Patrons are required to self-regulate their distancing at the table. There is no requirement for businesses to determine which patrons are from the same household and regulate physical distancing at the table.

It is recommended that you display your COVID Safety Plan Certificate (which will state the maximum number of patrons that can be present within the venue) on, or near, the entrance door to clearly advise people on the number of patrons that can safely be in your business at any one time to allow a minimum of two square metres per person.

Queues should be avoided as much as practicable. Where people do queue, such as at the entrance and service counter, provide markings on the floor 1.5m apart to show people where they should stand. Markings should be in bright colours or a pattern that stands out.

Procedures should be put in place to ensure these physical distancing measures are adhered to.

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