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

Australian states and territories have started reeling back capacity limits for on-premise venues. Each state has applied solidarity in enforcing venues to instigate tracing technology where applicable. Publicans are able to operate under one person by two square metre capacity limits in all states and territories except under special circumstances in Victoria, where four square metre capacity limits still applies. Many governments have placed no more capacity restrictions but venues must still enforce social distancing under these circumstances.

Australian Capital Territory

Venue capacity rules have been updated as of February 20 and allow for the following:

  • Each venue can have 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.
  • Businesses and venues must be registered for and using the Check In CBR app. Businesses and venues must take all reasonable steps to require patrons to check in before entering the premises. All patrons 16 years and older must check in. Children less than 16 years old attending with their family don’t need to check in, but parents and caregivers should be encouraged to check them in. If patrons don’t have the app, they must provide their details to the venue so they can check the patron in.
  • There is no longer capacity limit for each space.
  • Patrons can stand while eating and drinking in indoor and outdoor spaces.
  • 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 12 February 2021, the capacity limit at hospitality venues in Greater Sydney were eased. In greater Sydney, capacity can be up to one customer per two square metres of publicly accessible space.

There can be up to 25 customers at the premises before the square metre rule applies. 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.

All pubs, clubs, small bars, cellar doors, breweries, distilleries, karaoke bars and casinos must also register as COVID Safe. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on February 24 barring any unexpected outbreaks, from March 17 patrons will be able to stand and drink indoors at pubs.

Northern Territory

The NT is no longer in Stage Three lockdowns. Meaning, there is no longer a limit on indoor or outdoor gatherings but physical distancing is still required.

The Northern Territory Government has procured its own app – Territory Check-In – to make it easy for businesses, organisations or venues to comply with the Chief Health Officer directions by enabling customers to self-check-in. This is the same app that is being used in the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania.

Territory Check-In will automatically collect customer contact information. Venues using the app won’t need to manually collect information and won’t need to store that information.

Under the Directions, gaming, amusement and entertainment businesses must:

  • Have a COVID-19 safety plan, which they must comply with.
  • Make available hand sanitiser to customers unless handwashing facilities are available.
  • Display signage in areas that are open to the public and accessible to employees stating that a person should consider the following:
  1. keeping 1.5m away from a person who is not a member of the person’s family, a friend or an acquaintance (a person not known to them);
  2. if it isn’t possible to keep 1.5m away from a person not known to them – keeping close contact to less than 15 minutes;
  • practising hand hygiene by washing hands or using hand sanitiser;
  1. staying home if feeling unwell;
  2. downloading the COVIDSafe app.
  • Appoint a COVID Safety Supervisor to facilitate the implementation of their businesses COVID-19 Safety Plan.
  • Collect the contact details of any person attending the premises for longer than 15 minutes.

Queensland

Since recovering from the January Brisbane lockdowns, businesses have been allowed:

  • customer density of one person per two square metres across their venue
  • up to 100 per cent of seated capacity for venues offering ticketed and allocated seating – patrons are encouraged to wear masks on entry and exit. Performers must be two metres from the audience and choirs four metres from the audience
  • up to 500 people for indoor events with a COVID Safe event checklist – larger events require a COVID Safe Plan
  • up to 1,500 people for outdoor events with a COVID Safe event checklist – larger events require a COVID Safe Plan
  • 100 per cent seated capacity for open air stadiums (with COVID Safe Plans in place) – patrons are encouraged to wear masks on entry and exit.

COVID Safe industry plans:

Approved COVID Safe industry plans are available for:

  • dance and physical performing arts
  • hotels, clubs, nightclubs and adult entertainment
  • live performance venues and theatres
  • tourism and accommodation
  • wineries

Casinos, gaming and gambling venue rules:

Find coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for liquor and gaming licensees.

Casinos, gaming or gambling venues must comply with an approved COVID Safe industry plan.

Gaming venues can:

  • serve food and drinks
  • provide takeaway food and home delivery
  • operate for gaming, including electronic gaming machines
  • operate dance floors.

You can’t serve food in buffets.

Nightclubs:

Nightclubs are allowed to operate. All dance floors can operate with no more than one person per two square metres.

You cannot serve food in buffets.

Find coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for liquor and gaming licensees.

South Australia

All hospitality businesses that conduct a defined public activity must have a COVID-Safe Plan. There is currently no COVID restrictions on capacity limits since restrictions eased in late 2020.

From 14 December 2020, any defined public activity which requires a COVID Safe Plan and general retail premises must use an approved contact tracing system which includes the COVID-SAfe Check in, Scan Tek or any other electronic platform which is approved by the state coordinator.

Restrictions are applicable to:

  • For venues with a capacity of 200 people or less, dancing while drinking is now permitted as long as other COVID-19 requirements are abided by, including mandatory QR code scanning, and the presence of a COVID marshal.
  • For venues with a capacity of 200 to 1,000 people, dancefloors will be permitted but limited to 50 people at a time.Venues with a capacity of more than 1,000 people will only be allowed to have dancing if an approved COVID safety plan is in place.

Venues with gaming and pokies have been given guidance which includes:

  • No one should use or operate pokies/gaming machines if unwell or experiencing symptoms. This includes patrons, staff and maintenance.
  • Pokies/Gaming machine rooms can have up to one person per two square metres.
  • Physical distancing of 1.5m applies.
  • More frequent cleaning and disinfection is required, especially for high touch surfaces such as pokies interface, coins slots, coin tray etc.
  • Patrons should use their own coin holders/cups and are encouraged to avoid use of coins where possible.
  • Patrons should be encouraged to use a pre-paid pokies/gaming machine compatible card or equivalent card where possible.
  • Shared equipment should be minimised where possible and cleaned frequently.
  • Communal food and beverage facilities are not permitted.

Tasmania

The number of people permitted at businesses/activities (other than households, entertainment venues, outdoor arenas and outdoor stadiums) is 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 2 square metres.

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

All people in any single undivided space count towards the maximum number of people permitted. Children and babies also count towards the maximum number.

Where practicable, business operators, staff, volunteers and attendees should maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from other people.

For mixed use venues with multiple indoor or outdoor spaces, the gathering limit 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 for each of these spaces (the density limit applies).

Business restrictions 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.

Victoria

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).

The number of patrons permitted in a hospitality venue is determined by (1) its size in square metres and (2) if electronic record keeping is used. Venues include

For venues less than 50 square metres:

  • if the venue uses electronic record keeping (for example, QR codes) 25 patrons are permitted; or
  • if the venue uses written record keeping, the venue must apply the density quotient of one person per four square metres.

For venues 50 square metres or more:

  • if the venue uses electronic record keeping (for example, QR codes), the venue can apply the density quotient of one person per two square metres; or
  • if the venue uses written record keeping, the venue must apply the density quotient of one person per four square metres.

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

Western Australia

Since it’s snap lockdown in February, which finished on February 5, all food businesses and licensed premises can open with minimal restrictions.

Food businesses include restaurants, cafés, food trucks and food courts. Licensed premises include pubs, clubs and club rooms must all follow the following:

  • A venue can’t allow more than 1 person per 2 square metres.
  • Patrons can purchase alcohol with or without a meal and they don’t have to be seated.
  • If a food business or licensed premise is at capacity, they can still provide takeaway if patrons waiting to collect their order stay outside the venue and keep 1.5 metres from others.
  • Cellar doors can provide wine tastings and patrons don’t need to be seated. Patrons are not required to order a meal with their drink.
  • The 2-square-metre rule only includes staff members at venues with over 500 patrons.
  • You must continue to stay 1.5 metres from people who are not from your household. Practise good hygiene.
  • WA businesses should update their COVID Safety Plans and implement them.
  • You can place bets and watch events and racing at TAB and Pub TABs. The Crown Casino — including the gaming floor — can open.

Mandatory contact register

Most businesses in Western Australia need to collect visitors’ contact details for contact tracing purposes. Visitors include patrons, staff, contractors and volunteers. The details collected will include contact telephone number, location, date and arrival time.

If a person attends a food and licensed venue, as well as takeaway food and beverage businesses, they must provide your contact details.

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