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 24 February.

This article should not be treated as legal advice. It will be updated as restrictions are announced, implemented or repealed.

Here are the official state and territory restriction guides for New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT.

How many people can I have over at my house?

New South Wales: from Friday, residences in greater Sydney, Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Wollongong will be allowed a maximum of 50 guests including children. Currently 30 guests are allowed. In the rest of the state, people are allowed a maximum of 50 visitors in their homes at one time. However NSW Health strongly urges caution and continued hygiene and social distancing practices.

Victoria: you can have up to five visitors to your home each day. There is no limit on the number of households those people come from.

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: Indoor and outdoor private gatherings limited to 20 people and a 4 sq metre rule applies at venues.

South Australia: gatherings in private homes allow a maximum of 50 people with no requirements. Gatherings of between 51 and 200 people in private homes will require a COVID-Safe Plan. 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. Physical distancing of 1.5 metres in encouraged.

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 must be worn on public transport, but are no longer compulsory for in retail settings, or for hospitality workers or people attending places of worship. Masks are still encouraged, especially around people with low immunity, or in places where social distancing is not possible.

Victoria: masks are mandatory in all public indoor settings. They must also be worn on public transport, in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicles. If you have visitors in your home, health officials strongly recommend that masks are worn during the visit.

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 mandatory when outside of your place of residence, including at all workplaces, public transport, and while exercising, unless exercising vigorously outside.

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.

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 1,000 in an outdoor space, as long as there is at least 2 sq metres of space per person.

Western Australia: indoor and outdoor private gatherings limited to 20 people.

South Australia: up to 200 people can gather in a group in a public space, observing the 1 person per 2 sq metres of floor space rule.

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.

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. Due to the recent Covid cases, anyone who has been in greater Melbourne on or after 29 January 2021 cannot enter a residential aged care facility, unless a negative Covid test has been obtained, or 14 days have passed.

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: visits to aged care and disability care facilities are restricted to compassionate grounds in the Perth and Peel areas. Elsewhere, visits are permitted unless the visitor has returned from overseas within the past 14 days, has been informed they are a close contact, has symptoms, or is not up-to-date with their flu vaccination.

South Australia: people who have travelled from any place other than a low community transmission zone within 14 days cannot enter an aged care facility. 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: venues must observe the 2 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.

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: A 1 person per 2 sq metres rule applies at hospitality venues.

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: venues can have 25 people across the entire venue. If they wish to have more, it can do so if using the Check In CBR App and observing the 1 person per 2 sq metres of usable space rule.

How far can I travel within my state?

The only restrictions on travel within states are in Victoria, as well as Western Australia and South Australia where there are restrictions on visiting some remote Aboriginal communities.

In Victoria, people can only travel a maximum of 5km from their home, unless they have an exemption for reasons such as work.

Can I visit another state?

New South Wales: from Friday 5 February, new requirements have been put in place for people travelling into NSW from other states. See requirements per state here.

Victoria: a permit system is in place for travel to Victoria from all parts of Australia.People who have been in the Perth metropolitan area, the Peel region and the south-west region of Western Australia since 25 January must get a test within 72 hours of arriving in Victoria and isolate until a result comes back negative.

Queensland: 46 Western Australia LGAs and two unincorporated areas are considered Covid-19 hotspots, meaning only returning Queensland residents will be allowed to enter from these locations. They will then need to quarantine for two weeks. This restriction will be rescinded on Sunday 14 February.

People travelling from greater Melbourne cannot enter Queensland from 1am Saturday 13 February. Anyone already in Queensland who has visited greater Melbourne since 5 February has been advised to get tested and isolate until they receive their results, as should people across Australia who have been in venues considered areas of concern. There are no restrictions on travelling to Queensland from other parts of Australia.


Tasmania has declared certain locations in Victoria as high-risk. If travelling from these areas, you must quarantine in government-designated accommodation.

There are no restrictions on Tasmanians travelling to other states and territories.

for 14 days.

South Australia: All travellers coming to SA must complete a Cross Border Travel Registration.
From 12:01 am 18 February, travel from greater Melbourne remains prohibited. Travellers from the rest of Victoria are permitted into SA, provided they have not been in the greater Melbourne area from 12:01 am 4 February

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. Greater Melbourne and Melbourne Airport have been added the NT’s list of Covid hotspots, meaning residents cannot travel to the territory without 14 days of quarantine at their own cost. Anyone from these suburbs has to enter quarantine at a cost of $2,500 per person. Anyone who arrived in the NT between 7 and 12 February from these areas needs to get tested and isolate. 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: ACT has announced anyone who arrives in the ACT from Victoria from 11.59pm on 12 February will need to isolate for 14 days.

How many people can attend a wedding or funeral?

New South Wales: up to 300 can attend a wedding. For weddings, up to 20 people in the wedding party are permitted on the dance floor at a time. From 12:01am Friday 26 February, this number will increase to 30. Funerals can be attended by up to 300 OR the number of people allowed by the square metre rule applicable to the size of the venue. 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, this will change to 50 from Friday, and but physical distancing must be observed.

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:

A place of worship can operate at 60% capacity during funerals and weddings.

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 2 sq metre physical distancing rule must be observed. An outdoor religious service is subject to the one person per 2 sq metre rule. Masks do not have to be worn. If congregations decide to engage in singing, they must all wear masks and observe the 4 sq metre rule.

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: religious gatherings must observe the 4 sq metre rule in Perth and Peel and 2 sq metre rule in other regions. For Perth and Peel regions, the 150 person capacity for events applies.

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 indoor space, or one person per two square metres of outdoor space, provided they are using the Check In CBR app.

Are schools back in session?

Schools are back in session, including in the Perth, Peel and south-west regions of Western Australia. 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.

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 2 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, but from Friday 26 February cinemas will be allowed to return to 100% 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. Masks no longer have to be worn by visitors or staff.

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 open in the Perth, Peel and south-west regions, but must observe the 4 sq metre rule, and can have up to 150 patrons (not including staff).

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. Visitors are urged to maintain 1.5m physical distancing.

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. On Friday 26 February, this number will increase to 50. 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.

Queensland: gyms, health clubs, yoga studios and community sports clubs can open for up to one person per 2 sq metres. Mandatory record keeping is required at these venues. 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: community sport venues are limited to the 150 person capacity limit. Exercise outside is allowed, but a mask must be worn, unless the exercise is outside and vigorous.

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.

Guardian staff

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