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State-by-state-by-territory guide to COVID-19 restrictions for venues

Queensland and Victoria recently eased some more COVID-19 restrictions, while South Australia tightened its rules and in NSW electronic check-in is mandatory from today, so 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 venues with a total usable space of 100 square metres or less.

Option Two [For hospitality venues only]: 50 people (excluding staff) across venues with total usable space of between 101 and 200 square metres.


Option Three: Venues can have:

  • one person per four square metres of usable space in each indoor space (excluding staff)
  • one person per two square metres of usable space in each outdoor space (excluding staff)
  • maximum of 500 people for each space.

Patrons in outdoors spaces can stand while eating and drinking; however, they are strongly encouraged to remain in their groups and should not mingle with people they do not know.

The ACT Government has also introduced the Check In CBR app, a contactless, secure and convenient way for customers to sign into a Canberra venue.

New South Wales

From Monday 23 November 2020, 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 electronic methods such as a QR code.

The Service NSW COVID Safe Check-in is strongly recommended as a free, secure and convenient system, but any electronic method that meets the record keeping requirements can be used.

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

There is now generally 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.

Attendance: 300 patrons, or the number allowable by one customer per four square metres indoors and one customer per two square metres outdoors, whichever is the lesser. Venues using capacity calculations of one customer per two square metres outdoors must use electronic methods to collect contact details for each customer. Children count towards the capacity limit.

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

Significant events held at outdoor hospitality venues may apply the one person per 2 square metres rule. The events are still subject to a maximum of:

  • 300 people for corporate events
  • 150 people for weddings (300 people from Tuesday 1 December 2020)
  • 100 people for funerals and memorial services (300 people from Tuesday 1 December 2020).

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.

From 30 November 2020, most of the businesses and venues that were required to close earlier in the year as part of the NT response to COVID-19 will be required to collect the contact details of persons attending their business. This includes restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs.

Name and contact number

Date and time of entry into the business

All individuals including customers, staff members and contractors will be required to provide their contact information every time they enter the premises if they are there for more than 15 minutes.

One family member can provide their details on behalf of their family group in a restaurant or café setting.

Business are strongly encouraged to use electronic methods such as a QR Code, as this provides a secure, contactless and hygienic way of collecting details.


Queensland is now in Stage Five of its Roadmap to easing restrictions.

The state’s pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes can now accept one person per two square metres and seated ticketed venues are increased to 100 per cent capacity with patrons wearing masks on entry and exit.

Outdoor events can increase capacity to 1500, with a COVID-Safe Event Checklist, while outdoor dancing – including in beer gardens – is once again allowed.

South Australia

Attendance at pubs, clubs and restaurants is capped at 100 people per venue, with density requirements of one person per four sqm total, and no vertical (standing) consumption indoors or outdoors. There is a maximum booking size of 10 people per group, with seated dining only.

Gatherings at licensed venues will be capped at 50 people, with density requirements of one person per four sqm and no vertical (standing) consumption.

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.

Venues must have a COVID-Safe Plan. If you have not completed a COVID-Safe Plan, do not have this available at your premises, or do not comply with current Directions, you can be fined up to $5,000.


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 2 square metres.

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

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

People attending an event in a licensed venue can move around freely, but must remain seated while consuming alcohol indoors. Standing and drinking alcohol outdoors is permitted at licenced venues. The current restriction requiring seated drinking of alcohol remains in place for all other non-domestic settings, including those with a liquor permit.

For example, at a function or a networking event, people can stand and mingle, but they must be seated while drinking alcohol indoors. But, if they are in an outdoor area of the licensed venue they can drink alcohol while standing.

Restrictions remain in place for dancing in all venues where food and alcohol is consumed because of the increased risk of close contact, particularly where alcohol is consumed, and difficulty of tracing contact among patrons.

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. Indoor seated service for up to 150 people depending on the size of the venue. Outdoor seated service for up to 300 people (with a total venue limit of 300).  Nightclubs may open for seated service only. There is no limit on the size of the group you can sit or dine with.

For hospitality venues with less than 200sqm of floorspace indoors, the two square metre rule should be applied indoors with up to of 50 patrons allowed. QR codes must be used for venues using the small indoor venue density quotient. For venues with 200sqm of indoor floorspace or larger, the four square metre rule must be applied with up to 150 patrons allowed.

Hotels can open gaming rooms however patrons in gaming rooms are included in indoor hospitality patron limits. Smaller venues will have smaller numbers of patrons allowed. Groups are limited to 20 patrons.  Every second gaming machine must be disabled to support patrons keeping 1.5 metres distance.

Hotels will need to ensure patrons can keep 1.5 metres between themselves and others. The venue will ask for your contact details if you are spending more than 15 minutes at their venue, to help with contact tracing.

Casinos can open for up to 1000 patrons. Every second gaming machine must be disabled to support patron distancing.

There is no longer a limit on the time you can spend at a gaming venue. Casinos will need to ensure patrons can keep 1.5 metres between themselves and others.

The ‘two square metre rule’ applies to the outside spaces of food and drink businesses in Victoria from 11:59pm on 8 November 2020. The two square metre rule only applies to hospitality businesses, and only for outdoor spaces that they operate.

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 is currently in effect.

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 2sqm 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.

By Andy Young, The Shout


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