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Common questions about the rules

FAQs about how the COVID-19 public health orders affect gatherings, how many people you can have at your home and community activities.

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School holidays

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

  • 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.
  • Take care whilst travelling 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.
  • Avoid shared travel arrangements such as carpooling.
  • Take extra care if you’re around vulnerable people.
  • Outdoor settings generally present a lower risk of transmission than indoor settings, so try to arrange for school holiday gatherings to take place outdoors as much as possible and remember that outdoor gatherings are still limited to 20 people (apart from community sport activities with a COVID-19 Safety Plan).

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

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.

Year 12 formals and graduation ceremonies

On 17 August, the NSW Government announced guidance for NSW schools to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission, particularly with Year 12 students only weeks away from their HSC exams.

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
  • singing and playing musical instruments
  • gatherings outside venues before and after events
  • group photographs.

On 17 August, the NSW Government announced guidance for NSW schools to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission, particularly with Year 12 students only weeks away from their HSC exams.

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

The plan includes guidance about managing

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

Dancing

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.

Further guidance on other school year events will be provided by NSW Health in future updated advice for Term 4. Advice has been provided earlier for Year 12 school events so that these students can focus on HSC exams.

Weddings

All wedding services and gatherings after wedding services must register as COVID Safe.

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.

Group singing, such as choirs, is high risk and should be avoided. Solo singing and wind instruments can spread COVID-19 if a performer is infected. If these are involved in the ceremony or reception ensure there are protections in place for guests, including at least 5 metres distance from performers.

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

Seniors, vulnerable people and aged care facilities

Residents of aged care 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 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 are at greater risk of more severe symptoms if they are infected with COVID-19.

This means you may want to be more cautious about who you choose to see and where you choose to go.

If you or someone near you is feeling unwell or has even mild symptoms, NSW Health advice is that you stay home and get tested

Extra care should be taken when visiting those over 70 or those with a pre-existing condition.

Maintain a physical distance of more than 1.5 metres wherever possible and consider using the available outdoor areas such as the backyard or verandah when visiting someone’s home.

Above all, do not visit even if you have the mildest symptoms.

For more information read our COVID-19 advice for vulnerable people.

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 20 visitors at any one time.

As the home is a high transmission area, the NSW Chief Health Officer strongly recommends having no more than 10 visitors at a time in your home. 

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) who need to attend your home will not be counted as visitors.

From 14 September, if you have more than 20 visitors at your home, each visitor (not just the members of your household) may be fined for a breach of the public health order.

Yes, it is 20 visitors in total including children.

No. You can have guests from any household so long as it does not exceed 20 visitors in total. 

From 14 September, if you have more than 20 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, at school, or at a cafe, restaurant or other venue, the limits are:

From 14 September, if you have more than 20 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, the NSW Chief Health Officer strongly recommends having no more than 10 visitors at a time in your home.

People from different households should maintain physical distancing.

Find out about safety precautions for

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.

You are able to be outdoors with up to 20 people in total in a public place. (A public place does not include an outdoor area at your place of residence.)

This could be to exercise or a family picnic. It’s up to you, as long as no more than 20 people are gathering together.

Even within the gathering, you should maintain physical distancing.

Yes, 20 people in total may gather in a public place. The number includes children.

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

Funerals, memorial services and wakes

The maximum number of people allowed at a funeral or memorial service is 100 people. This number must also take into account that there should be no more than one person per 4 square metres of space. Funerals at outdoor public places or place of residences are subject to the same limits

The venue should also be registered as COVID Safe

A funeral or memorial service must not have more than 100 people present and enough space to provide 4 square metres of space per person, whichever is the lesser.

If you’re planning a gathering after a funeral, the gathering will have a limit of 100 people, and there must be at least 4 square metres of space per person.

Hospitality venues such as pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafés are permitted to accept a booking of up to 100 people for a gathering following a funeral provided there is 4 square metres of space per person. Venues must also be registered as COVID Safe.

For a gathering after a funeral in an outdoor public place or a residential premises the 20 person limit does not apply. The maximum number of people permitted is the lesser of one person per 4 square metres of space, or 100 people.  

Find out more about safety precautions for

You should discuss the venue’s cleaning policy with the venue operator.

Under the NSW Health checklist, venues should ensure any areas frequented by staff or visitors are cleaned and disinfected at least daily.

Staff should frequently clean and disinfect shared surfaces. This includes door handles, lift buttons, handrails, seating, tables and sinks and staff rooms.

Staff should wear gloves when cleaning and wash hands thoroughly before and after with soap and water.

If you would like a guest book, consider asking guests to bring their own pen, or have a plan to clean any shared pens as well as the area around the book.

If you would like one less concern at this difficult time, consider alternatives like a digital guestbook that can be filled in from home.

Talk to the funeral director about alternatives to books, booklets, or other shared objects used during the service. 

We also encourage online or electronic alternatives to any cash collections to be taken up in memory of the deceased.

Places of worship and other venues should have a mechanism in place to ensure the clear display of the conditions of entry. These conditions should be available to the public on the organisation’s website and social media platforms. 

Conditions should also be clearly displayed at all entrance points.

Venues for funerals should also be registered as COVID Safe

Many precautions are general measures that people have become familiar with, such as physical distancing, frequently washing or sanitising your hands and getting tested if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, even a mild one. 

Other precautions are more specific to slightly larger gatherings, such as funerals and memorial services. 

If the funeral is being held in a church, for example, we suggest erecting protective barriers around frequently touched objects of worship such as shrines, relics or fonts.

Listen to any requests from your funeral venue or place of worship to reduce any crowding at the entrance or exit of the facility. This is important for everyone’s safety. You may be asked to enter or exit at a particular time to reduce crowding.

Find out more about precautions to take for performances by choirs, singers and musicians.  

This is a very difficult situation. We really urge anyone with even one of the COVID-19 symptoms, however mild, including sore throat, runny nose, cough, fever, muscle or joint pain, a change in taste or smell, or fatigue, to stay away from gatherings and get tested as soon as possible.

Funeral organisers are encouraged to consider live streaming the service or providing a video link for those who cannot attend due to illness or travel restrictions.

If you know of people who are at high risk of developing COVID-19 complications, such as elderly people or people with existing health conditions affecting their immunity, consider offering an online service. This allows everyone to pay their respects in a COVID safe way. 

The risk of significant illness may be different for a 67-year-old person and a 37-year-old. However, no age group is immune from potentially severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection. Personal responsibility and common sense need to be front of mind to keep you, your loved ones and your community safe, especially at this difficult time. 

Individuals should take personal responsibility by staying away from funerals, memorial services and wakes, and getting tested if they have even the mildest symptoms, including sore throat, runny nose, cough, fever, muscle or joint pain, a change in taste or smell, or fatigue. 

Personal responsibility is key to protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our communities against the spread of COVID-19.

You may want to designate someone to assist with this at the entrance as well as during and after the service or speak to the funeral director ahead of time about assisting with this type of situation.

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.

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.

People entering the premises to attend a funeral are required to provide their name and contact details to the occupier of the premises for contact tracing purposes. Records must be kept for at least 4 weeks. Organisers must ensure records are used only for the purposes of tracing COVID-19 infections and are stored confidentially and securely.

If a guest or other person attending the funeral is diagnosed with COVID-19, NSW Health will ask that you provide this record to assist with contact tracing.

In addition, encourage guests to download the COVIDSafe app, which supports contact tracing while protecting personal information under the Commonwealth Privacy Act.

Travel and holidays

NSW has temporarily shut its border with Victoria to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the health and jobs of NSW citizens. 

Residents in NSW must still comply with border restrictions imposed by other states and territories if they wish to travel outside of NSW. 

Yes. You can travel to regional NSW for holiday purposes.

See the advice on travelling for school holidays

Yes. You can travel for work in NSW.

There is no limit on the distance you can travel for work.

We advise not to catch public transport during the peak times for travel.

There is no limit on the distance that a person may travel to visit another household, so long you are not exceeding the maximum number of people allowed to visit another home.

Only residents and essential personnel are permitted to travel to Lord Howe Island, and anyone returning to the island will need to self-isolate for 14 days.

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

Community and school sports

From Saturday 26 September, interregional community sporting competitions may recommence without restricting these activities to regions or zones, where there is a COVID-19 Safety Plan for the school or community sport activity in place.

More than one parent may now 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.

Ensure strict compliance with all other elements of the COVID-19 Safety Plan. 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.

  • Don’t go if you’re unwell, and instead get tested.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • If you’re a spectator, stay 1.5m apart or wear a mask if you can’t. This includes before, during and after sporting activities.
  • Avoid carpools and bus travel 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 you activities are affected by these recommendations.

Community sport organisations are advised follow the advice from NSW Health and cease, avoid or modify the following activities.

Inter-region sporting competition and activities

Do not allow participants and staff from different regions to gather. This includes reconfiguring, rescheduling or cancelling inter-zone, regional or state championships or competitions that

  • bring together players, spectators and officials from different regions of Sydney, from a regional area into a metropolitan area and vice versa
  • involve movement between different regional areas.

Overnight trips

Do not hold activities that result in overnight stays. This includes avoiding multi-day training camps in residential-type settings with shared facilities which increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Social activities

Do not hold face-to-face social activities relating to community sports. Examples are award ceremonies, end-of-season social gatherings, post-training group dinners.

Transport arrangements

Avoid carpools or bus travel with people from different household groups where possible.

Spectator attendance

For local activities, limit spectators to one parent only, where the child requires parental supervision during the sporting activity.

More information

For further advice about these recommendations visit the Office of Sport website.

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

Going to a gym, dance, martial arts or other fitness training facility

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.

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

Physical distancing is still important and one of the key steps in protecting yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19

The NSW Government checklist for gyms and other fitness and sport facilities includes a comprehensive list of requirements around physical distancing, given its importance in protecting us all from COVID-19.

Gyms as well as yoga, pilates, dance and other fitness studios must ensure they allow for one person per 4 square metres.

When you’re in the studio you should be able to take two steps in any direction without risk of collision – this is around 1.5m distance. If you can’t, it’s probably too crowded and you should bring this to the attention of your instructor.

Gyms are advised to promote physical distancing with markers on the floor, including where people are asked to queue. In addition, they should move or block access to equipment to maintain at least 1.5 metres between people. 

Think of physical distancing as part of the new normal.

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.

Whether to go to the gym or engage in any other activity is a personal decision.

Each of us needs to balance our own personal risk when it comes to resuming activities we enjoyed before the spread of COVID-19. This risk may be different for a 67-year-old person and a 37-year-old. However, no age group is immune from potentially severe outcomes.

You can however minimise the 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
  • changing clothes and showering at home, rather than at the gym, is also recommended.

Check that the business has a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. Businesses should clearly display the COVID-related conditions of entry on public platforms, including their website, social media platforms and at the venue entrance.

Gyms and other fitness facilities should have a policy for excluding staff and visitors who are unwell, even if they only have mild symptoms. 

Again, we ask that individuals take personal responsibility by staying away from public places and getting tested if they have even the mildest symptoms.  

Gyms and other fitness studios and centres should ensure good hand hygiene facilities are available, including at the entry and throughout the venue.

If you do not see these present you have an indication that it is unlikely to be practicing safe hand hygiene.

Under the NSW Government checklistgyms should ensure

  • any areas frequented by staff or clients are cleaned at least daily with detergent or disinfectant
  • frequently touched areas and surfaces are cleaned several times per day with a detergent or disinfectant solution or wipe (including EFTPOS equipment, handrails, tables, countertops, doorknobs and sinks)
  • there is a checklist showing the gym is being cleaned regularly.

You can ask the business about their cleaning policy and observe whether you see this in practice.

Only you can decide whether you wish to take the risk of entering the premises.

Gyms and other fitness businesses should assess the safe capacity of communal facilities such as showers, change rooms and lockers.

Businesses should communicate this at the entrance and have strategies in place to reduce crowding and promote physical distancing.

Where practical, they should stagger the use of communal facilities. 

However, the safest practice is for you to change and shower at home if at all possible. 

Gyms and other fitness centres should ensure bathrooms are well stocked with hand soap and paper towels. 

In addition, they should have posters with instructions on how to wash your hands with soap and water.

NSW Health encourages contactless payment options to help protect against the transmission of COVID-19. 

According to the NSW Government checklist, gyms and other fitness businesses should provide staff training in COVID safety:

  • staying away from work when sick
  • physical distancing
  • cleaning requirements
  • managing sick clients.

They must also advise staff who have respiratory symptoms or fever to be immediately tested for COVID-19 and remain in isolation at home until they have received their result. 

Businesses should consider putting in place a process to ensure staff can access testing easily and ensure staff are aware of their leave entitlements if they are sick or required to self-quarantine.

Employers should also make staff aware of the COVIDSafe app and the benefits of the app to support contact tracing if required. The Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 must be complied with in relation to the COVIDSafe app. 

Any surfaces touched by clients should be cleaned with a detergent or disinfectant solution between each client.

You should observe this occurring and voice your concerns or leave the premises if you do not see this in place.

In some gyms cleaning wipes will be made available – the best strategy is to clean the equipment for yourself before and after use.

Gym staff should also clean areas used for high-intensity cardio classes with detergent and disinfectant after each use.

Gyms and other fitness studios should reduce the sharing of equipment where practical and ensure these are cleaned with detergent and disinfectant between use. 

They should also make detergent/disinfectant and gloves accessible for visitors to use, should visitors wish to use them. 

While businesses should play their part in making their facility COVID-safe, it also up to us to take responsibility for our own health and safety. You should wipe down all gym equipment before and after you use it with disinfectant wipes or detergent. 

Gyms, dance studios, martial arts centres and other fitness businesses are required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan. They should also have processes in place, where reasonably practicable, to keep a record of the name and a mobile number or email address for all staff, clients, visitors and volunteers for a period of at least four weeks. 

They should ensure records are used only for the purposes of tracing COVID-19 infections and are stored confidentially and securely.

In addition, businesses should cooperate with NSW Health if contacted in relation to a positive case of COVID-19 at their premises to help stop transmission. 

Download the COVIDSafe app and keep it running if possible.

Outdoor activities and pools

Yes, so long as there are no more than 20 people in total if they are from different households.

Remember to maintain physical distancing and get tested and stay home if you are unwell. 

Yes. Remember to maintain physical distancing

Get tested and stay home if you are unwell. 

You can use outdoor exercise and playground equipment, but do so with caution.

  • Wash your hands before and after you use this equipment.
  • Assume the person who has used the equipment before you has the virus.

Do not go out if you’re sick and maintain physical distancing.

Remember that the public gathering rule of no more than 20 applies.

Pools can operate but must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

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.

All cafes, restaurants, food and drink premises, micro-breweries, cellar doors, small bars, clubs and casinos must ensure they are registered as a COVID-19 Safe Business.

The same rules apply to cafes and restaurants as apply to pubs and clubs.

  • Maximum of 10 people per booking or per table.
  • Maximum of 10 people on a group entering or being on the premises.
  • Alcohol can only be consumed by seated customers.
  • Maximum of 300 people in the venue at any one time or one customer per 4 square metres, whichever is the lesser.
  • For venues that consist of separate areas, the maximum capacity is 300 people in the separate area at any one time or one customer per 4 square metres, whichever is the lesser.

     To be a ‘separate area’, the area must:
    • be separate from other areas on the premises
    • if food and drink services are being provided in the area, have staff that are providing food and drink service only in that area
    • not allow persons gathering in different separate areas of the venue to mingle.
  • Each separate area in a venue's premises will be required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan to ensure good hygiene and safety rules are in place.

  • Venues must assign one staff member as a COVID-19 Safe Hygiene Marshal who will be in distinctive clothing (eg 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.
  • The COVID-19 Safe Hygiene Marshal should ensure the accuracy and legibility of records.
  • Paper sign-in is permitted, however hospitality venues must create a digital record of customer contact details within 24 hours and provide it immediately if requested.  
  • QR code sign-in is strongly encouraged.

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.

Think about how hygiene risks can be minimised by avoiding the following:

  • 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 which 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.

Small music groups are permitted but wind instruments, such as flutes, oboes and clarinets, are discouraged due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Musicians should stay at least 1.5 metres from each other and 3 metres from the audience or congregation. 

Consider having one singer rather than a group. Group singing, as in a band or choir, poses a much higher risk of COVID-19 transmission and should be avoided.

When choosing a venue, make sure there is room for the singer to stay at least 3 metres from others when singing, and avoid group singing.

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.

Report breaches of COVID-19 rules

Yes. It is extremely important that we all stay vigilant and maintain the rules. We cannot afford to be complacent.

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.

In the case of any corporation, the maximum penalty is $55,000 and a further $27,500 penalty may apply for each day the offence continues.

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

Last updated: 24 September 2020

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