Skip to main content

Common questions about the rules

FAQs about how the COVID-19 public health orders affect gatherings at homes and outdoors, participation in sport and recreation activities, and support the safe operation of businesses.

On this page

Recent changes

The following changes apply from Tuesday 1 December.

Increased visitors at a residence

Up to 50 people can visit a residence as long as an outdoor space is being used, however, it’s recommended no more than 30 people gather if the residence has no outdoor area.

Increased numbers for outdoor gatherings

Up to 50 people can gather outdoors in a public space.

Small hospitality venues can apply the 2 square metre rule indoors

Small hospitality venues (up to 200 square metres in size) will be allowed to have one person per 2 square metres indoors.

Read more about the upcoming changes

Update on entry to Queensland from NSW

The Queensland-NSW border is open to all travellers from NSW including travellers from Greater Sydney LGA areas. Read more about travel into Queensland.

Weddings and funerals can include up to 300 guests

The number of people who can attend a wedding or a funeral increases to 300 people subject distancing and venue capacity conditions.

Visiting or meeting up with family and friends

There is no daily limit to visitors to your home, so long as you don’t have more than 50 visitors at any one time. The total number of 50 visitors includes all adults, children and babies.

The limit applies whether you are indoors or outdoors (e.g. in a backyard, courtyard or balcony) at your home. If you are unable to use an outdoor area NSW Health recommends keeping visitor numbers to no more than 30.

An overnight stay as part of a visit to someone's house is allowed. 

If you are over 70 or have a pre-existing medical condition, you should limit the number of visitors and take care at all times.  

Some people (such as tradespeople or people responding to an emergency) who need to attend your home will not be counted as visitors.

If you have more than 50 visitors at your home, each visitor (not just the members of your household) may be fined for a breach of the public health order.

You can have guests from any household so long as it does not exceed 50 visitors in total. 

If you have more than 50 visitors at your home, each visitor (not just the members of your household) may be fined for a breach of the public health order.

If you are planning a party at home or at a cafe, restaurant or other venue, the limits are:

  • 50 visitors at home (including adults, children and babies)
  • 50 people in an outdoor public place
  • 30 people for each individual booking and 30 people at an individual table at a hospitality venue such as a restaurant, cafe, pub or club.

If you have more than 50 visitors at your home, each visitor (not just the members of your household) may be fined for a breach of the public health order.

As the home is a high transmission area, NSW Health strongly recommends having no more than 30 visitors at a time in your home if there is no outdoor area.

People from different households should maintain physical distancing.

Find out about safety precautions for

No more than 50 people can gather outside in a public place which includes public parks, reserves, beaches, public gardens and spaces. 

Read more about outdoor public gatherings.

COVID-19 can spread outdoors. However, transmission of COVID-19 is more common indoors, where there may be less space to physically distance, and where people may come into contact with droplets (produced by sneezing or coughing) and airborne particles (produced by talking, singing and shouting) more easily. 

If you’re catching up with friends or family, choose an outdoor location if possible. You still need to practise good hand hygiene and maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from anyone you don’t live with.  

Gathering outdoors reduces the risk of transmission of COVID-19 because infectious droplets and airborne particles are more quickly diffused in the open air than in spaces with less ventilation.

While UV radiation (sunlight) can assist by inactivating coronaviruses on surfaces – it does not kill them if they are already inside your body. The biggest benefit of being outdoors is that the fresh air diffuses droplets and airborne particles more quickly which means you are less likely to get infected if there is an infectious person present.

If gathering indoors opening windows and doors can help ventilate a room and more quickly diffuse any infectious droplets or airborne particles that may be present. This can help reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

If you are planning to have a party on a bus or hire a bus to go to or from a party, the 4 square metre rule applies and the operator of the bus must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

People from different households should maintain physical distancing.

Hospitality venues can calculate the outdoor capacity for the venue based on one customer per 2 square metres provided the venue meets the requirements of their COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Weddings

If you will serve alcohol at your wedding, consider ways to encourage responsible use, such as limiting bar tabs or drink packages. Alcohol can only be consumed by seated patrons.

NSW Health recommends the following measures for singing and chanting.

Indoor settings

A small group of up to 5 people may sing together in a large well-ventilated area if:

  • all singers face forwards and not towards each other 
  • have physical distancing of 1.5 metres between each other and any other performers, and
  • 5 metres from all other people including the audience and conductor.

The audience or congregation should not participate in singing in this setting due to the increased risk of transmission and NSW Health strongly recommends anyone 12 years or older wear a face mask.

Ensembles and other musical groups should rehearse and perform outdoors or in large, well-ventilated indoor spaces.

Outdoor settings

A group of up to 30 people may perform together in a singing group outdoors if:

  • all singers face forwards and not towards each other 
  • have physical distancing of 1.5 metres between each other and any other performers, and
  • 5 metres from all other people including the audience and conductor.

If the event is one where the audience or congregation are likely to participate in the singing, audience members and congregants 12 years or older should wear a face mask.

Note: audiences that are singing are not counted in the 30-person limit on those who are performing in a singing group.

Musical instruments

Players of non-reeded woodwind instruments (such as flutes and recorders) should maintain a physical distance of 3 metres from others in the direction of air flow, and 1.5 metres in all other directions.

Players of all other instruments (including reeded woodwind instruments) should maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres between each other and the audience/conductor.

Up to 20 people in the wedding party are permitted on the dance floor. There cannot be rotation of people on the dance floor beyond the wedding party. 

Funerals, memorial services and wakes

Funeral organisers are encouraged to consider live streaming the service or providing a video link for those who cannot attend if they are ill, vulnerable, or face travel restrictions.

Venues for funerals should have a COVID-19 Safety Plan and be registered as COVID Safe. 

Precautions at the venue include

If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, including sore throat, runny nose, cough, fever, muscle or joint pain, a change in taste or smell, or tiredness, you should not attend and get tested as soon as possible. See the COVID-19 advice for seniors and vulnerable people

Check the invitation for arrival and departure times as you may be asked to enter or exit at a particular time and use a specific doorway to reduce crowding. 

Places of worship and other venues should clearly display the conditions of entry 

  • at the venue, at all entrance points
  • on the organisation’s website and social media platforms.

Find out more about precautions for live music performances

Talk to the funeral director about alternatives to books, booklets, or other shared objects used during the service. For example, you might like to offer a digital guestbook so that attendees, friends and family can make contributions safely. 

If you do have a printed guestbook at the venue, you could ask guests to bring their own pen, or have a plan to clean any shared pens and the area around the book.

If you are planning for financial donations in memory of the person who has died, you can set up online or contactless transactions as alternatives to cash collections.

Australia has strict border measures in place and there are very limited flights available to and from Australia. There are restrictions on people coming from overseas and a quarantine period of at least 14 days at the port of arrival in Australia is mandatory, except for people who have been in New Zealand for the previous 14 days who fly into NSW.

Where possible, for the safety of all, make arrangements for a video link to the service or postpone mourning activities until travel arrangements have been confirmed.

Seniors, vulnerable people and aged care facilities

Aged care residents are at increased risk of COVID-19 infection and are more vulnerable to serious complications if they do become infected.

Staff and visitors who have travelled overseas or who have had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case must not attend the facility for 14 days from the time they returned from overseas or last had contact with a case.

Anyone with a temperature of 37.5 degrees or higher, or symptoms of acute respiratory infection, must not enter or remain in a residential aged care facility.

Read NSW Health information for families and visitors

There are no specific restrictions for people over 70 about self-isolating or staying home. You can choose when you go out, where you visit, and when to have visitors. 

However, NSW Health advises that people over 70 or those with a pre-existing condition are at greater risk of more severe symptoms if they are infected with COVID-19.

For more information read our COVID-19

Travel and holidays

NSW residents must also comply with border restrictions imposed by other states and territories if they wish to travel outside of NSW

There is no limit on the distance you can travel within NSW to

  • visit family, friends or other people
  • attend school, university or TAFE
  • enjoy a holiday in NSW
  • meet work commitments. 

When travelling within NSW, you must comply with any rules that apply at your destination, such as the number of visitors allowed in a household. 

See the advice on

There is currently no restriction on travel within NSW for people who live in NSW, however people who become unwell should cancel or defer their plans to travel until a negative COVID-19 test is obtained.

When travelling, try to maintain physical distancing wherever practical. Use masks where physical distancing cannot be maintained or in crowded or poorly ventilated settings, and regularly practice good hand hygiene.

Take extra care if you’re around vulnerable people.

Outdoor settings generally present a lower risk of transmission than indoor settings. Try to arrange for holiday gatherings to take place outdoors as much as possible and comply with the limits and requirements for outdoor gatherings.

All travellers intending to enter South Australia need to register their intention to travel. If you are planning travel to SA, aim to complete the Cross Border Travel Registration at least 14 days before you leave, regardless of where your travel begins.

Learn more about visiting SA

Travel restrictions to Lord Howe Island have been lifted.

You can travel to or from Lord Howe Island for any reason. There is no requirement to undertake quarantine.

Find out about visiting Lord Howe Island.

For information on Australia's immigration and border arrangements during the COVID-19 outbreak visit the Department of Home Affairs website.

Year 12 formals and graduation ceremonies

A COVID-19 Safety Plan has been developed to help create a safe environment for conducting school graduation ceremonies.

The plan includes guidance about managing

  • seating arrangements
  • reducing crowding
  • awards presentations
  • gatherings outside venues before and after events
  • group photographs.

COVID-19 Safety Plans have been developed to help create a safe environment for conducting

The plans include guidance about managing

  • seating arrangements
  • reducing crowding
  • awards presentations
  • gatherings outside venues before and after events
  • group photographs.

Dancing at school formals

Year 12 formals may have a dance floor, provided that

  • it is a no-alcohol event
  • attendance is limited to those from the same school or, if partners are attending, they must be from the local community and normally socialise with the school's students
  • there is sufficient room for 1.5 metres physical distancing.

Dance floors should be outside wherever possible. If a dance floor is indoors ensure it is located in a well-ventilated area.

The following advice was issued by NSW Health on 24 September.

  • Schools may proceed with planning graduation ceremonies and school formals.
  • These events may be held any time in Term 4 for primary schools, but secondary schools should schedule these events for November 12 onwards to minimise the potential impact on HSC exams.
  • Schools should use the COVID-19 Safety Plan guidance for graduation ceremonies and formals to plan these events including limiting the number of family members or friends attending, such as to parents only.

NSW Health recommends that other school-related social events such as dinners, fundraisers, fetes and BBQs that involve parents and other adults should not proceed in Term 4.

Community and school sports

Interregional school or community sporting competitions are allowed if there is a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place for the event.

More than one parent may attend community sporting activities if physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres can be maintained between people that are not from the same household.

Strict compliance with all other elements of the COVID-19 Safety Plan is required. Non-essential adults should continue to be excluded from sporting activities held during the normal school day.

School and community sports organisations and participants should continue to avoid shared travel arrangements such as car pooling, and to minimise gatherings before and after the event.

NSW Health has issued the following advice.

COVID-19 is transmitted easily in household-like settings. Overnight accommodation settings where facilities are shared by people from different households and children require additional adult supervision and interaction, such as camps, may have an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission should someone attending be infected.

As the COVID-19 situation can change quickly, schools, facilities and overnight event organisers should:

  • consider the level of community transmission in the local community just before the overnight event is to be held, along with the other risks associated with the event as part of a risk assessment process
  • pay particular attention to excluding anyone with symptoms before the event, and
  • consider arrangements for isolating and testing anyone who develops symptoms during the event.

The risk of transmission is likely to be lower in primary school children. The risk of disruption of HSC exams may be higher if these events are held for secondary school students and one of these students or staff members becomes infected.

Overnight activities may take place so long as accommodation facilities and overnight event organisers develop and implement a COVID-19 Safety Plan and event organisers consider the issues above.

  • Don’t go if you’re unwell, and instead get tested.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • If you’re a spectator, stay 1.5 metres apart or wear a mask if you can’t. This includes before, during and after sporting activities.
  • Avoid carpools with people from different households where possible.
  • Competitions should be run within your local district, zone or association boundaries, and inter-regional and state activities postponed.
  • You may need to consult your local club or state sporting organisation or state sporting organisation for people with disability to determine whether your activities are affected by these recommendations.

State sporting organisations and sporting organisations for people with disabilities and other sector organisations should read the advice from NSW Health and determine how the recommendations and advice impact on their activities.

Visit the Office of Sport website. The advice from NSW Health will continue to be updated with further clarifications as the situation evolves.

See the information for sports and recreation activities and what you can and can’t do under the rules.

Find out more about COVID-19 Safety Plans for sport and recreation businesses and organisers

Gyms, dance, martial arts, outdoor exercise and pools

Gym or recreation classes or sports activities must have no more than 20 participants, plus the instructor and any assistants, per class.  

There may be multiple classes in a room if there is enough space to accommodate this under the one person per 4 square metre rule and the classes remain separate.

When there are more than 20 people using the gym at the same, there must be a COVID-19 Safety Hygiene Marshal on duty at the gym.

Do not go to training if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, however mild. Get tested and stay home until you have received your test results.  

Outdoor exercise classes such as bootcamps are allowed for up to 50 people.

Remember to

If you are unwell, get tested and stay home. 

Take care when using outdoor exercise and playground equipment by washing your hands before and after you use any equipment

Do not go out if you’re sick and maintain physical distancing from people you do not live with.

Remember that the public gathering rule of no more than 50 people applies.

Swimming pools can operate and must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Dance studios, gymnastics centres, martial arts training studios and other types of facilities involving parents and other spectators are required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Spectators will be included in the one person per 4 square metres rule – so you may be asked to wait outside.

Check that the business has a COVID-19 Safety Plan and minimise your risk of getting COVID-19 by:

  • taking your own water bottle, towel and mat, if possible
  • wiping down any piece of equipment before and after you use it with disinfectant wipes or detergent
  • using contactless payment options for any purchases
  • changing clothes and showering at home, rather than at the gym, is also recommended.

If you have any symptoms, even if mild, get tested and self-isolate.

Gyms, dance studios, martial arts centres and other fitness businesses are required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan and keep names and contact details for the purpose of contact tracing.

If a positive case of COVID-19 is confirmed to have visited the premises, the business is required to cooperate with NSW to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Download the COVIDSafe app and keep it running if possible.

Singing and music performances and outdoor activities

NSW Health recommends the following measures for singing and chanting.

Indoor settings

A small group of up to 5 people may sing together in a large well-ventilated area if:

  • all singers face forwards and not towards each other 
  • have physical distancing of 1.5 metres between each other and any other performers, and
  • 5 metres from all other people including the audience and conductor.

The audience or congregation should not participate in singing in this setting due to the increased risk of transmission and NSW Health strongly recommends anyone 12 years or older wear a face mask.

Ensembles and other musical groups should rehearse and perform outdoors or in large, well-ventilated indoor spaces.

Outdoor settings

A group of up to 30 people may perform together in a singing group outdoors if:

  • all singers face forwards and not towards each other 
  • have physical distancing of 1.5 metres between each other and any other performers, and
  • 5 metres from all other people including the audience and conductor.

If the event is one where the audience or congregation are likely to participate in the singing, audience members and congregants 12 years or older should wear a face mask.

Note: audiences that are singing are not counted in the 30-person limit on those who are performing in a singing group.

Musical instruments

Players of non-reeded woodwind instruments (such as flutes and recorders) should maintain a physical distance of 3 metres from others in the direction of air flow, and 1.5 metres in all other directions.

Players of all other instruments (including reeded woodwind instruments) should maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres between each other and the audience/conductor.

Outdoor music performance and rehearsals

Up to a maximum of 500 people can participate in outdoor music performances and rehearsals provided the event complies with a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

The person principally responsible for organising the rehearsal or performance must develop and comply with a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

All participants must provide their contact details (phone number or email) where practicable.

You can meet up with people outdoors for a picnic or celebration as long as there are no more than 50 people in total if they are from different households. The total number includes all adults and children. 

Remember to

If you are unwell, get tested and stay home

Businesses that are open

Each business can make decisions about what makes the most sense for them in light of the most recent easing of restrictions.

It is up to the business.

  • Venues must assign one staff member as a COVID-19 Safe Hygiene Marshal who will be in distinctive clothing (such as a shirt or badge) and responsible for ensuring all aspects of the COVID-19 Safety Plan are being adhered to including overseeing social distancing, cleaning and ensuring the accuracy of record keeping. 
  • Large hospitality venues with a capacity of more than 250 people must have a COVID-19 Safe Hygiene Marshal on duty whenever the venue is open.
  • Smaller hospitality venues with a capacity of less than 250 people must have a COVID-19 Safe Hygiene Marshal during peak periods, and at least during lunch from 12pm to 3pm, and dinner from 5pm to 9pm.

  • All customers (unless only collecting takeaway) must sign in by providing accurate contact details (name and phone number or email address) and their time of entry.
  • Electronic check-in (such as QR codes) is mandatory at hospitality venues. 
  • The COVID-19 Safe Hygiene Marshal should ensure the accuracy and legibility of records.

People from different households should maintain physical distancing.

  • Move or remove tables and seating to support 1.5 metres of physical distance where possible.
  • Reduce crowding and promote physical distancing with markers on the floor where people are asked to queue, such as at a bar.

Minimise hygiene risks by avoiding the sharing of food and drink such as:

  • self-serve buffet style service areas
  • communal snacks
  • communal condiments
  • communal cutlery, implements and serviettes
  • sharing cigarettes or e-cigarettes. 

Generous or even unlimited bar tabs could lead to people drinking so much alcohol that they forget the safe practices that help protect them and their loved ones from COVID-19.

NSW Health recommends the following measures for singing and chanting.

Indoor settings

A small group of up to 5 people may sing together in a large well-ventilated area if:

  • all singers face forwards and not towards each other 
  • have physical distancing of 1.5 metres between each other and any other performers, and
  • 5 metres from all other people including the audience and conductor.

The audience or congregation should not participate in singing in this setting due to the increased risk of transmission and NSW Health strongly recommends anyone 12 years or older wear a face mask.

Ensembles and other musical groups should rehearse and perform outdoors or in large, well-ventilated indoor spaces.

Outdoor settings

A group of up to 30 people may perform together in a singing group outdoors if:

  • all singers face forwards and not towards each other 
  • have physical distancing of 1.5 metres between each other and any other performers, and
  • 5 metres from all other people including the audience and conductor.

If the event is one where the audience or congregation are likely to participate in the singing, audience members and congregants 12 years or older should wear a face mask.

Note: audiences that are singing are not counted in the 30-person limit on those who are performing in a singing group.

Musical instruments

Players of non-reeded woodwind instruments (such as flutes and recorders) should maintain a physical distance of 3 metres from others in the direction of air flow, and 1.5 metres in all other directions.

Players of all other instruments (including reeded woodwind instruments) should maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres between each other and the audience/conductor.

Report breaches of COVID-19 rules

Breach of orders made under the Public Health Act 2010 is a criminal offence and attracts heavy penalties.

In the case of an individual, the maximum penalty is $11,000, or imprisonment for 6 months, or both and a further $5500 penalty may apply for each day the offence continues. The NSW Police may also issue on-the-spot fines of $1000 for an offence.

Any business found in breach of the Public Health Orders could face a penalty of up to $55,000 and a further $27,500 penalty may apply for each day an offence continues. On-the-spot fines can also be issued.

Anyone in the community can report public health order breaches via CrimeStoppers.

Last updated: 1 December 2020

Top of page