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What you need to know about Australia


Despite slowly emerging from Covid-19 lockdowns since May, the Melbourne metropolitan area and Mitchell Shire immediately to the north will return to a stage three lockdown situation for six weeks following a massive surge in community transmission of the Coronavirus.

Under the provisions there are only four reasons you can leave your house:

  • for work or school
  • for care or care giving
  • for daily exercise
  • for food and other essentials

You cannot travel to exercise outside the lockdown zone and you cannot leave your primary place of residence for a holiday home if it is outside the lockdown zone. Furthermore, you can only travel into these areas for work if you have to do it in person, or to provide or receive care. Businesses and facilities such as beauty parlours, gyms, libraries and swimming pools in Greater

Melbourne that have been able to reopen, must close and cafes and restaurants will only be allowed for takeaway and delivery services.

You can no longer have visitors to your home.

Outside the defined areas of Melbourne and its surrounds, the following rules apply.

How many people can I have over at my house?

New South Wales – Currently 20 people from different households can visit. There is no limit to the number of guests you can have over per day, as long as there are no more than 20 at a time and guests can stay overnight.

Victoria (excluding Melbourne) – Up to five guests are allowed to visit at any one time.

Queensland – Up to 100 adults from different households are allowed to visit another home.

Tasmania – Up to 20 visitors are allowed.

Western Australia – Unlimited guests are allowed as long as there is no more than one person per two square metres.

South Australia – Unlimited guests are allowed as long as there is no more than one person per two square metres and you maintain a 1.5 metre distance between you and those you don’t regularly associate with.

Northern Territory – Unlimited guests are allowed indoors or outdoors, but you must keep 1.5 metres between you and anyone outside your immediate household.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT) – There is no limit on household visitors.

How many people can gather outside?

New South Wales – Currently public gatherings of up to 20 people are allowed. 

Victoria (excluding Melbourne) – Up to 10 people can gather outside for recreational purposes, or to engage in activities like hiking, jogging and other non-contact sport.

Queensland – Up to 100 people can gather in public spaces.

Tasmania – Up to 500 people are allowed in an undivided outdoor space.

Western Australia – There is no limit on the number of people allowed at public gatherings.

South Australia – There is no limit on the number of people allowed, as long as there is no more than one person per 2 square metres.

Northern Territory – There are no number limits but social distancing should be maintained.

ACT – Up to 100 people can gather together outdoors.

Can I visit someone in an aged care facility?

Please note that in every state, all visitors must have received this year’s flu vaccination, unless they have a documented medical dispensation against the vaccine. Visitors cannot enter an aged care facility if they have recently been overseas, been in recent contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19, or are feeling unwell.

New South Wales – NSW health guidelines for residential aged care facilities dictate that residents should only have one daily visit with a maximum of two visitors (immediately family or close friends), no large group visits or gatherings, and all visits should be short and take place in the resident’s room, outdoors or a specified area (instead of a communal area).

Victoria (excluding Melbourne) – Residents of care facilities, including aged care, can have up to two support visits each day, for up to two hours. The two visitors can go together, or in separate visits that total two hours. Those under the age of 16 can only visit if the resident is receiving end-of-life care or if they are in the company of an adult.

Queensland – Aged care residents can have up to two visitors at any one time. There is no limit on the number of visits allowed in a day or the length of each visit. Children under 16 are able to visit residential aged care facilities.

Tasmania – Residents in aged care facilities can have multiple visits of two people, with no restrictions on the length of visits or the total number of visitors they receive in a day. Residents are permitted to go outside on trips, and hairdressers can be allowed in. Children under 16 are also allowed in. Additional visitors are allowed for the purpose of end of life support, or if needed to reduce distress and confusion given a residents’ medical condition.

Western Australia – Each resident in an aged care facility can have one care and support visit a day, with up to two visitors at a time. Only immediate social supports, like family members and close friends, professional help or advocacy services can attend.

South Australia – Residents can have one visit per day. Up to two people can visit them at the same time for the purpose of providing care and support. Children under the age of 16 years can visit, and aged care facilities can approve additional visits if this is appropriate or necessary.

Northern Territory – Residents can have up to two visitors at a time, and visits should be kept short. Children aged 16 years and under are not allowed to visit those in aged care facilities, except for special circumstances.

ACT – Residents can have one visit per day, of up to two people, for the purposes of providing care and support. Visits cannot last more than two hours. Those aged 16 years or younger can only visit on compassionate grounds for the purpose of visiting a resident at the end of life.

Can I eat at a restaurant, cafe or pub?

New South Wales – There is no limit on how many people can be inside cafes, bistros and restaurants as long as there are four square metres of space allowed per person. From the 17th of July, groups of up to 10 will be able to book a table to eat at a pub, with venues observing the four square metre per person rule up to 300 people at any one time. A dedicated marshal will oversee social distancing at all venues with a capacity greater than 250 at all times, while a marshal will be required only during lunch and dinner peaks at hotels with a capacity less than 250. All diners must provide their name and contact details, including a phone number or email address, to allow for contact tracing. Food courts can also reopen.

Victoria (excluding Melbourne) – Cafes, restaurants and other hospitality businesses are able to seat up to 50 patrons in an enclosed space but there can only be one customer per four square metres and tables must be spaced at least 1.5 metres apart. Venues are also required to keep the first name and phone number of every customer to allow for contact tracing. Alcohol will only be available to purchase with meals. Food courts may still offer only delivery and takeaway.

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 four square metres per person limit is observed. Venues with a floor space of less than 200 square metres can have a maximum of 50 people, not exceeding a limit of one person for every two square metres.

Tasmania – Up to 250 are allowed in an undivided space, as long as there is no more than one person per two square metres. Up to 500 people are allowed in an undivided outdoor space, density requirements also permitting.

Western Australia – Cafes and restaurants (including in pubs, bars, hotels, casinos, clubs) can seat diners, each one in two square metres. Venues are allowed to serve food and alcohol to non-seated patrons. There is no requirement for businesses to maintain a patron register.

South Australia – Restaurants, cafes, pubs, food courts, nightclubs and casinos can open, as well as standing hospitality venues. There is no limit on the number of people allowed, as long as there is no more than one person per two square metres. Drinking at a bar, or while standing, is allowed. Communal food, like buffets and salad bars, are not permitted.

Northern Territory – All businesses are allowed to reopen as long as they have a Covid-19 plan. The two-hour limit has been lifted, meaning night clubs can reopen. Alcohol can be purchased from a bar and licensed gaming activities, including TAB, can start.

ACT – Restaurants, cafes and other hospitality venues offering seated dining can host up to 100 patrons in each indoor or outdoor space, as long as there is one person per four square metres. This limit excludes staff. Bars, pubs, and clubs can serve alcohol in groups of up to 10 seated patrons, without a meal. Food courts are allowed to open to seated patrons.

How far can I travel on holiday within my state?

New South Wales – There are no limitations on travelling within the state, including for a holiday. A number of caravan parks and camping grounds have also reopened.

Victoria (excluding Melbourne) – There are no restrictions on how far you can travel within the state, unless you live in greater Melbourne currently under level three lockdown restrictions. You are allowed to stay in a holiday home or private residence, and tourist accommodation, including caravan parks and camping grounds, where there are no shared communal facilities.

Queensland – You are allowed to travel anywhere in Queensland for recreational purposes, other than in certain designated remote communities. Camping and holiday accommodation sites, including caravan parks, are allowed to open.

Tasmania – There is no limit on where you can go within the state.

Western Australia – Residents are allowed to leave their homes for recreational activities including picnics, fishing, boating or camping. Recreational travel to most nearby regions is now allowed, except to some remote Aboriginal communities.

South Australia – There are no restrictions on travel within South Australia. Some Aboriginal communities across the state have chosen to close access to their townships and lands to non-essential outside visitors. Non-essential visitors to these communities have to quarantine for 14 days and be granted permission.

Northern Territory – There are no restrictions on travel within the Northern Territory.

ACT – There is no limit on where you can travel.

Can I holiday in another state?

New South Wales – Residents are allowed to leave NSW, and visitors don’t need to quarantine. Residents cannot travel to Victoria due to the outbreaks in Melbourne. Anyone in Australia is able to travel to NSW for a holiday.

Victoria (excluding Melbourne) – Victoria’s border with NSW has been closed, with those wishing to enter NSW requiring a permit. Victorians wishing to enter South Australia also require pre-approval. No permit or approval is required to enter Victoria from another state, however some state premiers have also recommended residents should not travel to Victoria, given the current outbreaks.

Queensland – Anyone can enter Queensland unless they have been in a Covid-19 hotspot in the previous 14 days, in which case they will be refused entry. This includes anyone who has visited any part of Victoria and includes the Sydney postcodes covering Liverpool and Campbelltown.

Tasmania – All non-essential travellers to Tasmania, including returning residents, must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Non-Tasmanian residents must carry out their quarantine in government-provided accommodation.

Western Australia – You cannot enter Western Australia unless you are granted an exemption on application. There is no date for when the interstate border will reopen.

South Australia – People from Queensland, WA, the NT and Tasmania can enter South Australia without having to quarantine for 14 days. The South Australian government has not set a date to welcome visitors from other states.

Northern Territory – Unless you have been granted an exemption, anyone entering the Northern Territory must complete 14 days of mandatory self-quarantine. International arrivals still have to undertake a Government-mandated and supervised quarantine, and are required to pay $2,500 per person, or $5,000 for a family of two or more, to cover the cost. The NT will open its borders to domestic travellers on the 17th of July.

ACT – People who are not ACT residents may not enter the ACT from Victoria, unless they hold an exemption. ACT residents are required to enter quarantine until 14 days after leaving Victoria.

How many people can attend a wedding or funeral?

New South Wales – The number of people allowed at a wedding or a funeral is the maximum number of people allowed on the premises, which is one person per four square metres. However, when it comes to funerals, places of public worship, funeral homes, or crematoriums can have up to 50 attendees, ignoring the four square metre rule. Those attending will have to provide their name and contact details to allow for contact tracing.

Victoria (excluding Melbourne) – How many guests you can have depends on whether you are hosting the ceremony at home or elsewhere. If it is held at a venue, the celebrant, couple being married, and 20 people will be allowed to attend a wedding. Up to 50 people will be allowed to attend a funeral, in addition to the officiant and funeral staff, as long as there are four square metres allowed per person. But if a wedding or funeral is held in a home, only 20 people in total will be allowed to attend (including the celebrant and couple/ officiant and staff). Under stage three rules, expected to be introduced in July, attendance limits will require four square metres per person.

Queensland – No more than 100 people are allowed to attend weddings and funerals.

Tasmania – Up to 250 people can gather in an undivided indoor space, and up to 500 people can gather in an undivided outdoor space. In both cases, the number of people present must also not exceed one person per two square metres.

Western Australia – There is no limit on the number of people who can gather together, as long as there is no more than one person per two square metres.

South Australia – Weddings can have up to 75 attendees, not including the celebrant, venue staff or any other person required to facilitate the wedding. Up to 75 can also attend a funeral. This excludes those officiating the funeral or any staff required to carry out the funeral. If the ceremony involves food or drinks, no shared utensils can be used. Social distancing must be observed.

Northern Territory – There is no limit on the number of attendees.

ACT – Up to 100 guests can attend weddings or funerals, as long as there is no more than one person per four square metres. Under stage three rules, expected to be introduced in July, attendance limits will require four square metres per person.

Can I go to church?

New South Wales – There is no limit on the number of attendees at religious gatherings or places of worship, as long as the four square metre physical distancing rule is observed. The state’s chief health officer has urged congregations to reconsider activities that might spread the virus like group singing and passing round of collection baskets.

Victoria (excluding Melbourne) – Places of worship can open for private worship or small religious ceremonies of up to 20 people, plus the minimum number of people reasonably required for the service, is allowed in a single, undivided indoor space. There must be four square metres per person. At least one hour should be allowed between services or ceremonies to reduce the risk of crowds.

Queensland – Up to 100 people can visit a place of worship or attend a religious ceremony.

Tasmania – Up to 250 people can gather in an undivided indoor space, as long as there are two square metres per person.

Western Australia – Attendance is limited only by the two square metre rule.

South Australia – Attendance is limited only by the two square metre rule.

Northern Territory – There is no limit on how many people can attend a place of worship at the same time but you can only be there for less than two hours.

ACT – Up to 100 people, the four square metre rule permitting, can attend religious ceremonies and places of worship, not counting those conducting the ceremony.

Are schools back in session?

New South Wales – All students went back to school full-time in May.

Victoria (except Melbourne) – All students resumed on-site learning for term 3 on Monday the 13th of July. Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will move to remote and flexible learning from the 20th of July 2020 for all students except for Years 11 and 12, students in Year 10 undertaking VCE or VCAL study, and students enrolled in specialist schools.

Queensland – All students went back to school full-time in May.

Tasmania – All students went back to school full-time in June.

Western Australia – All students went back to school full-time in May. Parents and visitors are also now allowed on school grounds. Events and activities such as assemblies, excursions, choirs, exams, sports training and swimming classes can resume, in line with distancing requirements. School libraries can also open for up to 100 people in a shared space at a time. 

South Australia – All students are back at school..

Northern Territory – All NT students have been expected to physically attend school since April.

ACT – All students went back to school full-time in June..

Can I shop for clothes and other ‘non-essential’ items?

New South Wales – Retail shopping for non-essential items is allowed.

Victoria – You are only supposed to shop for necessary goods and services. Most businesses are also required to keep a record of names and contact details of customers in case contact tracing is later required.

Queensland – Retail shopping for non-essential items is back on.

Tasmania – You are allowed to leave your home to use businesses or services that are allowed to operate, which includes retail stores.

Western Australia – Retail shopping for non-essential items is allowed.

South Australia – Retail shopping for non-essential items is allowed.

Northern Territory – Retail shopping for non-essential items is allowed.

ACT – Retail shopping for non-essential items is allowed.

Are salons, spas and other beauty services open?

New South Wales – Hairdressers, barbers, as well as nail waxing, tanning and beauty salons, and tattoo and massage parlours can open, but must allow four square metres per person within the premises and should minimise personal contact with the customer. Providers must have a Covid-19 Safety Plan.

Victoria (excluding Melbourne) – Hairdressers and barbers are allowed to be open, but they are required to take your name and contact details should contact tracing become necessary. Beauty therapy, spray-tanning, waxing and nail salons, spas and massage parlours and tattoo and piercing services are able to reopen. Up to 20 customers are allowed on one premise, subject to the four square metre rule. Providers will still need to log customers’ contact details.

Queensland – Yes, beauty therapy and nail salons, tanning salons, tattoo parlours, spas, and non-therapeutic massage parlours (with a Covid-Safe checklist) can open to up to 100 people on site.

Tasmania – Yes, hairdressers and barbers can open. Beauty services and day spas can reopen with no cap on the number of people allowed inside, as long as there is one person per four square metres. Saunas and bathhouses are now also allowed to open.

Western Australia – All beauty services, including nail, tanning and waxing salons, as well as saunas, bath houses, wellness centres, float centres, spas and massage centres may reopen, for up to one person per two square metres.

South Australia – Hairdressers and barbers, along with beauty salons, nail and tattoo parlours, non-therapeutic massage providers, spas, saunas and baths can open, as long as the total number of people on site doesn’t exceed one person per two square metres.

Northern Territory – Hairdressers, and nail, massage and tanning salons, tattoo and piercing parlours and any other beauty services can open.

ACT – Hairdressers and barbers are allowed. Beauty therapy businesses, including nail salons, tanning and waxing services, day spas, including massage parlours and tattoo businesses are allowed to reopen to up to 100 people, but cannot exceed one person per four square metres, including staff. They must keep a record of customers to enable contact tracing, if needed.

What about cinemas, entertainment venues, museums and libraries?

New South Wales - Museums, galleries and libraries, National Trust and Historic Houses Trust properties are allowed to reopen to guests, as long as four square metres is allowed per person and they have a Covid-19 safety plan. For venues with 40,000 seats or less, attendance to a ticketed event with allocated seating must not exceed 25% of 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 four square metres (excluding staff), to a maximum of 500 people. Alcohol can only be served to seated patrons.

Victoria (excluding Melbourne) – Galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites, amusement parks, zoos and arcades are allowed to open up to 50 customers per separate space, with four square metres per person. Drive-in cinemas are also allowed to sell food and drink. Up to 50 customers are allowed to watch a film per cinema at movie theatres. Customers not from the same household will have to sit at least 1.5 metres apart, and the four square metre rule will apply. Concert venues and theatres are also allowed 50 viewers per separate space. From the 20th of July, electronic gaming at pubs, clubs and casinos will restart, per social distancing requirements.

Queensland – Libraries, museums, art galleries, historic sites, indoor cinemas, concert venues, theatres, arenas, auditoriums, stadiums, nightclubs, outdoor amusement parks, zoos and arcades are allowed to host up to 100 people at a time on site.

Tasmania – Up to 250 people can attend each undivided space in indoor recreational facilities, such as libraries, arcades, play centres, cinemas, museums, national institutions, historic sites, and galleries, the two square metre rule permitting. Up to 500 people are also allowed per undivided outdoor space.

Western Australia – Community facilities, libraries, galleries, museums, theatres, auditoriums, cinemas, and concert venues can all reopen, along with Perth Zoo, wildlife and amusement parks, arcades, skate rinks and indoor play centres. All venues can have as many people, as long as there is one person per two square metres. The two square metre rule only includes staff if the venue holds more than 500 patrons. There is a 50% capacity cap on major sport and entertainment venues, such as the Optus Stadium, HBF Park and RAC Arena. All events are allowed, except for large scale, multi-stage music festivals. Unseated performances can go ahead at concert halls, live music venues, bars, pubs and nightclubs, and the casino gaming floor will be allowed to reopen under temporary restrictions.

South Australia – Libraries, community and youth centres, cinemas, theatres, galleries and museums can have one patron per two square metres. Indoor play centres, arcades and amusement parks are also allowed to open. Swimming in public pools is allowed.

Northern Territory – Public libraries, art galleries, museums, zoos, cinemas and theatres, music halls, nightclubs, amusement parks, community centres, stadiums, sporting facilities and similar entertainment venues can open.

ACT – Up to 100 people are allowed at cinemas and 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. There can only be one person per four square metres throughout the venue. Organised tour groups of up to 20 people (excluding staff) will be permitted, as long as they run for less than two hours. Audiences must remain seated at live performances.

Can I go to the gym? What else can I do for exercise?

New South Wales – Gyms, fitness centres, and studios (like dance studios) are allowed to open for up to 20 people per class. The total number of people in a facility must not exceed one person per four square metres, excluding staff. Indoor pools and saunas will also be allowed to reopen to up to 20 people. Community sporting competitions and training can go ahead as long as the number in a facility does not exceed one person per four square metres, excluding staff, to a maximum of 500 people. You can use outdoor gym equipment in public places, with caution, and engage in recreational activities like fishing, hunting and boating.

Victoria (excluding Melbourne) –  Gyms, yoga studios, fitness classes and indoor personal training are prohibited from opening. However, up to 20 people can gather outside for activities such as hiking, jogging, bike riding, canoeing, kayaking and other non-contact sports. Outdoor boot camps of up to 20 people plus the trainer are also allowed. Outdoor swimming pools can have 20 patrons per enclosed space and three swimmers per pool lane. Playgrounds, outdoor gyms, and skateparks are also open. Indoor sports facilities can open up to 20 clients at a time, per separate enclosed space, as long as the four square metre rule is followed. Only 10 people are allowed per group per activity. Children are allowed to compete in contact sport, but non-contact sport will also be allowed for all ages. Skiing is also permitted now. Adults can begin training for contact sport now and begin playing from the 20th of July.

Queensland – Gyms, health clubs, yoga studios and community sports clubs can open to up to 100 people at a time. Up to 100 people can gather outside, play non-contact sport, and participate in outdoor group training and boot camps. Parks, playgrounds, skateparks and pools are open to up to 100 people at a time.

Tasmania – Up to 250 people are allowed in an undivided indoor venue, as long as there are two square metres per person. For a multi-purpose outdoor gathering limits have increased to 500. Full contact training and full competition sport (contact and non-contact) is allowed, as is the sharing of equipment, change rooms and other facilities.

Western Australia – Gyms, health clubs, and indoor sports centres can reopen for up to one person per two square metres. Gyms can operate unstaffed but must undergo regular cleaning. Contact sport and training can also recommence, and playgrounds, outdoor gym equipment and skate parks can be used.

South Australia – Gyms and indoor fitness classes can operate, subject to the one person per two square metres rule. Outdoor and indoor training and competitions for non-contact is allowed, as is the use of golf courses, tennis courts and public gym equipment.

Northern Territory – Gyms, fitness studios, and indoor training activities are allowed to operate. You can also officiate, participate and support team sports, like football, basketball, soccer and netball.

ACT – Indoor gyms and fitness centres are allowed to reopen to up to 100 people in any enclosed space, as long as there is only one person per four square metres. Patrons are allowed to take part in circuit training, individual weight training, and use gym equipment. That includes yoga, barre, pilates, and spin facilities, boot camps, personal training, swimming pools, organised sport activities, and dance classes. Up to 20 people can take part in outdoor boot camps and other non-contact training or sport. Full contact training for sport, dance and martial arts, as well as circuit training, is allowed. Communal facilities, such as changing rooms, can reopen if a risk assessment has been done and a strict cleaning regime has been put in place.

Who decides if I am breaking the new laws?

Generally, enforcement will be left up to the discretion of police officers.

States have expressed different approaches. For example, the ACT says it will be issuing a warning in the first instance, while Victoria has adopted a more hardline attitude to those that break social distancing rules.

NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller said he would personally review all physical-distancing fines issued in the state. “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, however, it appears these 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 the state or territory’s government website.

Click here to find out more information on global travel restrictions.

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