Business rules in NSW

Last updated: 22 January 2022


Rules and restrictions that apply to businesses throughout NSW.

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Check the rules below that apply to everyone in NSW.

Although the public health orders now permit entry to businesses for people who are not fully vaccinated, some businesses may make it a condition of entry that you are fully vaccinated or wear a face mask.

NSW Health strongly advises people get fully vaccinated and wear a face mask where they cannot physically distance.

Isolation exemption for some critical workers 

Critical workers furloughed as close contacts will be permitted to leave self-isolation to attend work if they have no symptoms of COVID-19, to ensure the state has continued access to essential goods.

Workers will only be eligible to leave self-isolation if their employer determines that their absence from the workplace poses a high risk of disruption to the delivery of critical services or activities, and they are unable to work from home.

These workers must wear a mask and comply with risk-management strategies put in place by their employer, including daily rapid antigen tests (RATs).

Any worker who tests positive or who develops symptoms of COVID-19 must self-isolate. The new rules take effect immediately and apply to critical workers in the following sectors:

  • agriculture (biosecurity and food safety personnel undertaking critical duties)
  • manufacturing (production and manufacturing of food, beverages, groceries, cleaning and sanitary products)
  • transport, postal and warehousing (food logistics, delivery and grocery fulfilment)
  • emergency services workers and healthcare workers who are necessary for the delivery of critical services and who cannot work from home
  • utilities, which include electricity services, operation of energy systems, gas services, liquid fuels, water supply, sewerage, sanitation and drainage services and waste and resource recovery services (including collection, treatment and disposal services)
  • information and telecommunications
  • social assistance and welfare services
  • funeral, crematorium and cemetery services
  • seaport operations
  • air and sea freight and logistics
  • the operation of correctional centres and community corrections
  • a person employed by Resilience NSW, a member of Surf Life Saving New South Wales, Volunteer Marine Rescue NSW, or NSW South Wales Volunteer Rescue Association Inc.

For more information, please refer to the critical worker exemption from the Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order (No 4) 2021 (No 1).

Read more detail in this critical worker exemption guidance.


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Masks, COVID-19 Safe Check-in and vaccination evidence

Masks

All people over the age of 12 must wear a face mask: 

  • in indoor areas (e.g. while shopping, when at a library) 
  • in indoor areas of common property of apartment buildings 
  • at a public transport waiting area  
  • while on public transport (including in taxis and rideshare services) 
  • if you are working at a hospitality venue and dealing directly with members of the public 
  • on an aircraft when the aircraft is flying above NSW and in the airport.
  • all staff K to 12 must wear medical grade masks. Medical grade masks will be supplied to all schools.

Exemptions are available. Learn more about face mask rules

COVID-19 Safe Check-in

COVID-19 Safe QR check-ins are only required at:

  • retail premises
  • food and drink premises
  • pubs, small bars and registered clubs
  • hairdressers, spas, nail, beauty, waxing, and tanning salons, tattoo parlours and massage parlours 
  • gyms (except dance, yoga, pilates, gymnastics, and martial arts studios)
  • hospitals (except patients of hospitals or hospitals with an electronic entry recording system that records sufficient information such that it can be used for contact tracing)
  • residential care facilities or hostels (except in relation to the residents)
  • places of public worship
  • funeral, memorials and gatherings afterwards
  • nightclubs
  • casinos
  • strip clubs, sex on premises venues, sex services premises
  • indoor music festivals with more than 1000 people.

Occupiers of premises are required to continue to take reasonable steps to ensure people can check-in or provide their contact details when they enter these premises.

If you are entering a premises where check-in is required, you must:

  • check in with the Service NSW app or
  • provide your details to the occupier of the premises.

Learn more about COVID-19 Safe Check-in and mandatory electronic check-in.

Vaccination evidence

Most premises in NSW are now open to everyone, regardless of whether you are fully vaccinated or not.

You no longer need to show evidence that you are fully vaccinated at most premises in NSW.

However, you still need to show evidence that you are fully vaccinated if you: 

Follow the vaccination requirements for workers.

Check what you need as vaccination evidence.

Venues may set their own COVID Safe conditions of entry

In addition to PHO requirements, some premises may choose to require people to be fully vaccinated or to wear a mask as a condition of entry.

It is a matter for the occupier of each premises to exercise judgement on what is appropriate for their premises and the well-being of their staff and customers. 

If you want to enter premises where an occupier has chosen to require you to be fully vaccinated, the occupier may ask to see your vaccination evidence. You do not have to show the occupier your vaccination evidence, but if you do not, the occupier may not let you in.

COVID-19 cases in the workplace

Where COVID-19 has been contracted at work, notification to SafeWork is expected where the worker has required hospital treatment, or there has been a fatality.

Read the guidance for businesses with a worker who tests positive for COVID-19.


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Sport, exercise and outdoor gatherings

General rules

Anyone can participate in sport, exercise, and outdoor gatherings. 

  • Customers are not required to be fully vaccinated or carry vaccination evidence.
  • COVID-19 Safe Check-in is not required (except at gyms).
  • Customers and staff must follow the face mask rules.

Businesses are no longer required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Optional COVID-19 Safety Plans are available to help businesses keep a safe environment for staff and customers. 

Gyms and indoor recreation facilities

Gyms and indoor recreation facilities can operate with no person or capacity limits in place, including for group fitness classes.

COVID-19 Safe Check-in is still required at gyms using the Service NSW app, but this does not apply to dance, yoga, pilates, gymnastics or martial arts studios.

Optional COVID-19 Safety Plans are available.

Swimming pools are open for all purposes.

If you wish to attend a dance, yoga, pilates, gymnastics, martial arts studio or swimming pool that is located inside a gym, you must check in when you enter the gym.

Community sport

Community sports, including matches, competitions and training, can take place for all staff, spectators and participants.

Outdoor events

Outdoor events and gatherings can take place in NSW.

There is no limit to the number of fully vaccinated people able to attend outdoor events and gatherings.


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Education, art and culture

Schools

Before the start of term 1, rapid antigen tests (RAT) will be provided to all staff and students through their schools. Schools will communicate with their local communities on how these will be distributed and collected.

Schools must inform their community of a positive case and advise families on public health advice, including monitoring for symptoms. Positive rapid antigen test results must also be registered on the service.nsw.gov.au website or Service NSW app.  

Under the new close contact rules, schools are no longer included in contact tracing  

All staff K to 12 must wear medical grade masks. Medical grade masks will be supplied to all schools.

For further details of the new Covid-smart measures for schools, please read the complete factsheet at the Department of Education.

Libraries, museums and galleries

Information and education facilities, including art galleries, museums and libraries are open. 

Anyone can visit an information and education facility. 

  • Visitors and staff are not required to be fully vaccinated or carry vaccination evidence.
  • COVID-19 Safe Check-in is not required.
  • Face masks are required, subject to exemptions.

Information and education facilities are no longer required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Optional COVID-19 Safety Plans are available to help keep a safe environment for staff and customers. 


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Shopping and personal services

Anyone can visit retail or business premises. 

  • Customers and staff are not required to be fully vaccinated or carry vaccination evidence.
  • COVID-19 Safe Check-in is required at retail premises in addition to requirements for personal services businesses.
  • Face masks are required.

Follow the rules for business: 

  • ensure all people who enter the retail premises check in with the Service NSW app or provide contact details to the occupier
  • follow the face masks rules.

Retail and businesses are no longer required to have a Safety Plan.

Optional COVID-19 Safety Plans are available to help keep a safe environment for staff and customers.

Personal services

COVID-19 Safe Check in is required using the Service NSW app at hairdressers, spas, nail salons, beauty salons, waxing salons, tanning salons, tattoo and massage parlours.


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Restaurants and hospitality

Anyone can visit a restaurant, café, hospitality venue or nightclub. 

  • Customers and staff are not required to be fully vaccinated or carry vaccination evidence.
  • COVID-19 Safe Check-in is required at all hospitality venues and nightclubs.
  • Face masks are required, subject to exemptions.

NSW Health strongly advises that patrons consider being seated while drinking.

Effective 8 January 2022, singing and dancing in hospitality venues and nightclubs will not be permitted other than for:

  • a performer who is performing or rehearsing on the premises; or 

  • a person who is instructing, or being instructed, in singing or dancing on the premises; or 

  • it's for a wedding service or reception that is being held at a hospitality venue including a function centre. 

Occupiers must ensure that patrons do not sing or dance unless the patrons are performing, rehearsing, being instructed in singing or dancing, or are part of a wedding service or reception.

Retail and businesses are no longer required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Optional COVID-19 Safety Plans are available to help best keep a safe environment for staff and customers.

Occupiers of hospitality venues

Examples of hospitality premises include casinos, restaurants, cafes, function centres, food courts, take away food and drink premises, kiosks, micro-breweries or small distilleries, cellar doors, pubs, registered clubs and small bars. 

  • There are no restrictions on the number of people allowed at hospitality venues or nightclubs, however indoor density limits of 1 person per 2 square metres applies.
  • Drinking indoors and outdoors may be seated or standing.
  • There is no limit on the number of people for a group booking.

Occupiers of pubs, registered clubs and small bars must take reasonable steps to ensure that each person who enters their premises completes a COVID-19 Safe Check-in when entering the premises.


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Construction and renovations

Construction and renovations across NSW can continue. 

Anyone can enter a construction site. 

  • People who enter a construction site are not required to be fully vaccinated or carry vaccination evidence.
  • COVID-19 Safe Check-in is not required.
  • Face masks are required, subject to exemptions.

Retail and businesses are no longer required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Optional COVID-19 Safety Plans are available to help best keep a safe environment for staff and customers. 


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Work

Employers can allow staff to work from home at their discretion.

There are no restrictions on travelling throughout  NSW.


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Events and entertainment

Anyone can visit an entertainment facility or indoor and outdoor recreation facilities. 

  • Visitors and staff are not required to be fully vaccinated or carry vaccination evidence.
  • COVID-19 Safe Check-in is not required.
  • Face masks are required, subject to exemptions.

Retail and businesses are no longer required to have a Safety Plan.

Optional COVID-19 Safety Plans are available to help best keep a safe environment for staff and customers. 

Entertainment and recreation facilities

Entertainment facilities include cinemas, theatres, musical halls, concert halls, dance halls, drive-in cinemas and play centres. 

Indoor and outdoor major recreation facilities include stadiums, theme parks, zoos, aquariums, and showgrounds.

Effective 8 January 2022, singing and dancing in entertainment facilities and recreation facilities (major) will not be permitted other than for:

  • a performer who is performing or rehearsing on the premises; or 

  • a person who is instructing, or being instructed, in singing or dancing on the premises

Music festivals

Effective 11 January 2022, singing and dancing by attendees at music festivals (both indoor and outdoor) is prohibited other than for performers who are performing or rehearsing on the premises.

Rules apply to indoor music festivals with over 1000 people in attendance.

An indoor music festival is:

  • a music-focused or dance-focused event
  • has performances by a series of persons or groups that perform live or are pre-recorded
  • the persons or groups provide musical or live entertainment
  • held indoors, within a defined area
  • is a ticketed event.

Music festivals do not include events that:

  • use a single stage
  • are proposed to be held over a period of less than 5 hours
  • have not more than 2 headlining performers
  • not more than 4 performers in total.

Rules for organisers

Organisers of indoor music festivals with over 1000 people in attendance must

People who are fully vaccinated can attend:

  • an indoor music festival with more than 1000 people in attendance
  • an outdoor music festival with up to 20,000 people in attendance.

People who are not fully vaccinated can attend:

  • an indoor music festival with less than 1000 people in attendance
  • an outdoor music festival with up to 20,000 people in attendance.

Organisers of music festivals may choose to request patrons provide vaccination evidence before entering the venue.

Organisers of music festivals must ensure that the only people who are singing and dancing at a music festival are the performers. Occupiers must ensure that attendees of a festival do not sing and dance at the music festival.


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Weddings and religious ceremonies

Anyone can attend a wedding, funeral, or place of worship. 

  • Attendees or staff are not required to be fully vaccinated or carry vaccination evidence.
  • Face masks are required for indoor premises, subject to exemptions.
  • If the wedding or funeral is held at a venue listed above, density limits of 1 person per 2 square metres applies to indoor areas.

Organisers are no longer required to have a Safety Plan.

Optional COVID-19 Safety Plans are available to help best keep a safe environment for staff and customers. 

COVID-19 Safe Check-in is required at places of worship, funerals, memorial services, or gatherings afterwards.

Effective 8 January, singing and dancing at hospitality venues is no longer permitted other than for wedding services and receptions. 

Standing while drinking is permitted but it is strongly discouraged by NSW Health. 

COVID-19 Safe Check-in for funerals and memorials

The occupier of a premises at which a funeral, memorial service or gathering is taking place must: 


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Travel and transport

General rules

People are able to travel anywhere within NSW. 

People who have recently arrived from overseas, must follow the rules for international arrivals.

You can travel in a vehicle or vessel with people you do not live with. 

Sharing a vehicle and carpooling

For vehicles and vessels used as a public transport service, passengers and staff must follow the face mask rules.

If vehicles and vessels are used for private purposes, such as a party bus, commercial tour or function,  passengers no longer need to check in with the Service NSW app .

NSW Health strongly advises people wear face masks when they cannot socially distance.

Holidays and holiday homes

There are no restrictions on travelling between Greater Sydney and regional and rural NSW for holidays or recreational visits within NSW.

Holiday homes and short-term accommodation can be used by anyone.

There are no capacity limits for holiday homes and short-term accommodation.

International travel

New rules are in place for people travelling to NSW from overseas.

For more information about the rules around leaving and entering NSW from outside Australia, visit International travel to and from NSW.

Stay safe and stop the spread of COVID-19.

Check in when you go out.

Present your COVID-19 digital certificate via the Service NSW app. 

Get vaccinated when you are eligible.

Get tested if you have the mildest of symptoms and even if you have been vaccinated.

Wear a face mask when required.

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