COVID-19: A state-by-state guide to hospitality restrictions


As the COVID-19 health crisis starts to abate, and the curve starts to flatten, some restaurants, cafes and pubs have been given the green light to start trading again.

In the hospitality sector, many small businesses have remained open for takeaway and delivery services throughout the crisis.

Now, easing restrictions mean they may be able to open their doors and start taking baby steps towards business as usual.

Here’s the state of play so far.

This article was updated on Monday, 25 May, 2020.


One of the last to unveil its recovery roadmap, the Victorian government has now announced that, from June 1, cafes, restaurants and pubs will be able to open to serve meals to up to 20 people at a time, per enclosed space.

Venues will, however, have to take the names and contact details of all patrons, in order to assist with contact tracing, if required.

Tables must be spaced 1.5 metres apart, and venues will have to abide by physical distancing rules, allowing for no more than one person per four square metres of space.

Venues will have to provide extra cleaning, staff health screening and temperature checks.

Currently, the easing of restrictions will apply to venues that serve food, including restaurants and cafes and bistros within pubs, bars, hotels and licensed clubs.

The easing will not apply to public bars or gaming areas until at least the end of June, Premier Daniel Andrews has said.

However, if all goes well, the 20-person limit will be expanded to up to 50 patrons per space from June 22.

Andrews has hinted it could be upped again to 100 patrons “during the second half of July”.

If the number of COVID-19 cases in the state remain low, as of June 22, cinemas and theatres will also be able to open to up to 50 people.

As of June 1, overnight stays will also be allowed, including at private residences and hotels, as well as at campgrounds and caravan parks.

However, venues will not be able to offer communal cooking or bathroom facilities.

The Premier also made particular mention of Victoria’s ski industry, saying the season will open on June 22.

Read more here.

New South Wales

On May 15, food and drink premises in New South Wales were able to open to seat a maximum of 10 people at any one time.

As of June 1, that limit will increase to 50 people.

This applies to cafes, bistros and restaurants, including restaurants within registered pubs and clubs. However, alcohol may only be served with food.

Venues must continue to comply with social distancing rules, allowing for one person per four square metres of space, and physical distancing of 1.5 metres between patrons.

There is a maximum party size of 10 people.

Businesses have also been encouraged to place queue markers to encourage social distancing; install screens at points where customers and staff interact; encourage cashless payments; and place hand sanitiser out for customers.

The NSW government has encouraged customers to call ahead to book tables, rather than gathering to queue outside venues.

Gaming services — such as poker machines and pool tables — must remain closed.

Hotels are able to continue to provide accommodation and offer food and drinks as room service.

As of June 1, the state government is allowing travel to regional NSW for holidays.

Campgrounds will be able to open, but visitors are being urged to call and book ahead, and to practice especially good hygiene when using shared facilities.

New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro urged people to “visit local businesses, enjoy local attractions and feast on the best food regional NSW has to offer”.

Find more information here.


In Queensland, cafes, restaurants and fast-food outlets are able to open to 10 people at a time, while observing the four square metre rule and maintaining social distancing between customers.

Again, alcohol is only able to be served with food, and via table service. Food courts remain open to takeaway only.

In outback Queensland, up to 20 people are able to dine-in at restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels and licensed clubs.

You can learn more about pubs, clubs and cafes here.

South Australia

Last week, after some confusion, the South Australian government announced restaurants and pubs could open to a maximum of 20 people — 10 inside and 10 outside.

Already, venues were able to open to 10 people dining outside, and customers could not consumer alcohol.

Now, alcohol can be served with food. Patrons are able to approach the bar area to order, but must be seated when they’re served.

Venues will also have to continue to abide by the four-square-metres-per-person rule, and of course the 1.4-metre social distancing rule.

The state also specifies that “good hygiene should be practised”.

South Australia has also brought forward its second wave of easing, relaxing restrictions again as of June 1, a week ahead of schedule.

Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes will be able to admit up to 80 people, provided they can contain them into groups of up to 20.

Pubs will be able to serve drinks without food, but still only to customers who are seated.

It appears this means wineries and cellar doors will be able to re-open, ensuring the restrictions are met.

Cinemas and theatres will also be able to open to up to 80 people.

Businesses will, however, be required to complete a COVID-19 form, detailing their re-opening plan, which they must be able to produce on request.

Learn more here, and see the Premier’s latest press conference here.

Western Australia

The Western Australian government has opened up cafes and licensed venues, including pubs, bars and restaurants, allowing up to 20 people to dine-in. Again, venues must allow for the one-person-per-four-square-metre rule.

Customers must be seated while eating and drinking, and alcohol may only be served with a meal.

As of May 29, regional travel exemptions will be relaxed, with some exceptions,

Read more about the restrictions here.

Australian Capital Territory

As of Friday, May 15, restaurants, bars and other hospitality venues in the Australian Capital Territory were able to open to a maximum of 10 people, while allowing for four square metres of space per person.

Venues are encouraged to enforce good hand hygiene among staff, and to frequently clean and disinfect all spaces.

According to the ABC, licenced premises can only seat people who are ordering food.

Read more here.


Tasmania has also moved to stage one of its easing of restrictions, meaning cafes and restaurants can open for table service to up to 10 people.

Again, venues must adhere to spacing restrictions, allowing each customer four square metres of space.

Alcohol can only be served with food.

Venues that have two distinct dining areas may open each area to 10 customers (although two is the maximum). Each area must have completely separate waiting staff.

Tasmanian restaurants and cafes are also required to develop a ‘COVID-19 safety work plan’, and to implement measures to manage the risk of transmission of the virus at their business.

Learn more here.

Northern Territory

From May 15, restaurants, cafes and bars in the NT were able to re-open for the consumption of food and drinks.

There are not currently any restrictions on numbers allowed in any one venue. But there are other measures in place.

Before opening, businesses must have a ‘COVID-19 safety plan’ checklist in place, and submitted to the Department of Health, showing how they will meet physical distancing and hygiene requirements.

Businesses must have spacing markers on the floor anywhere where people might queue, and must make hand sanitiser or hand washing facilities readily available to customers.

Each party must be seated at separate tables, with no more than 10 people in a single party.

Again, customers can only consume food or drinks if they’re seated, and alcohol cannot be served without a meal.

The NT government also specifies that business owners in the sector have a responsibility to stay informed about restrictions related to COVID-19 and their type of business. Staff members are also responsible for understanding the risks.

Learn more here.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

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