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Restrictions for regional and rural NSW

Rules and restrictions that apply to regional and rural NSW to protect the community from COVID-19.

Restrictions currently in place

Updated 12:30am, 10 January 2021

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Stay safe and follow the rules

Stay safe and stop the spread of COVID-19. Get tested even if you have the mildest of symptoms.

NSW Health strongly encourages people to wear face masks indoors.

If you are visiting or staying in Greater Sydney, Central Coast and Wollongong areas, certain restrictions are in place, including that it is mandatory to wear a mask indoors in certain venues.

Visitors allowed at a residence and outdoor gatherings

Up to 50 visitors from any number of households may visit another household on any day. The total number of visitors includes adults and children. (A member of the hosting household is not counted as a visitor.)

No more than 100 people can gather outside in a public place which includes public parks, reserves, beaches, public gardens and spaces. 

Find out more about the rules below.

Up to 50 visitors from any number of households may visit another household at any one time. The total number of visitors includes adults and children. (A member of the hosting household is not counted as a visitor.)

  • There is no daily limit to visitors to your home, so long as you do not have more than 50 visitors at any one time.
  • 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.  
  • An overnight stay as part of a visit to someone’s house is allowed.

If there are more than 50 visitors at a home, every person will be held individually responsible 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 if the residence has no outdoor area. 

Strata buildings

Visit NSW Fair Trading for information for people living and working in strata and community schemes.

People who are not counted as visitors

Under the public health orders, people working for the occupier of the premises or assisting in an emergency situation at your home will not be counted as visitors.  

A COVID-19 Safety Plan is required by real estate agents to allow people to view or inspect a home to buy or rent it or to attend an auction. People attending a home for this purpose will not be counted as visitors.

People who are at higher risk

People who are at higher risk of COVID-19 infection include:

  • people aged 70 years and over
  • people aged 65 years and over with chronic medical conditions
  • people with a compromised immune system
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 50 years and older with one or more chronic medical conditions.

If you are in one of these groups, follow the guidance for vulnerable people.

From Tuesday 12 January 2021, masks must be worn

  • in indoor areas of NSW airports, including passenger waiting areas 
  • during a flight, when the plane is  
    • landing at or taking off from the airport or 
    • flying in NSW airspace

You may be fined $200 on the spot for not wearing a face mask.

If you travel to Greater Sydney however, you must wear a mask in certain indoor settings.

No more than 100 people can gather outside in a public place which includes public parks, reserves, beaches, public gardens and spaces. 

The maximum of 100 people does not apply to

  • a group of people who are all from the same household
  • community sporting activities
  • outdoor performances and rehearsals 
  • a protest or demonstration about governmental or political matters.
  • weddings
  • funerals
  • regional agricultural shows
  • controlled outdoor events.

Under the public health order

  • people attending to assist in an emergency do not count towards the limit
  • a public gathering means a meeting or assembly of persons for a common purpose in a public place.

The maximum number of people who can attend a controlled outdoor event is the greater of one person per 2 square metres and up to

  • 3,000 people if people are assigned to a seating area or
  • 5,000 people if the people are each assigned to a specific seat.

The event may be held in a public place that

  • is enclosed by fencing or another form of barrier
  • can be accessed only with a ticket.

The gathering must not last longer than 5 hours.

The organiser must have and comply with a COVID-19 Safety Plan, and electronic entry recording is compulsory.

Weddings, funerals and religious services

The number of people at a wedding or a gathering following a wedding service is subject to the one person per 2 square metres rule.

You must complete and register a COVID-19 Safety Plan for your event.

People attending will be required to provide their name and contact details so that they can be used for contact tracing.

Only the wedding party, to a maximum of 20 persons, is permitted on a dancefloor. There cannot be rotation of people on the dancefloor beyond this wedding party.
 

The number of people who may attend a funeral or memorial service or a gathering following a funeral or memorial service, is subject to the one person per 2 square metres rule.

Places of public worship, funeral homes and crematoria must be registered as a COVID Safe business.

People attending the service will be required to supply their name and contact details so that they can be used for contact tracing.

Read common questions about attending funerals, memorial services and wakes.

The number of people in a place of public worship is subject to the one person per 2 square metres rule.

The venue must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan and be registered as a COVID Safe venue to keep staff, volunteers and visitors safe.

Develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan for your church, meeting house, mosque, synagogue, temple or another place of worship to help your community connect safely.

For religious services held at a location other than a place of public worship, the principal organiser is responsible for developing and complying with a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Services can also be streamed or recorded to enable people to engage in worship.

See the advice for services involving music and singing.

People attending a religious service will be required to provide their name and contact details when they enter so that they can be used for contact tracing. It is strongly recommended that people attending services in places of worship wear a mask.

Hospitality venues, events and musical activities

Venue operators must generally ensure there are at least 2 square metres of space for each person on the premises or in the area, as applicable.

The maximum number of people permitted at hospitality venues is one person per 2 square metres. Up to 25 patrons are permitted before this rule applies.

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

Penalties apply to venues found to breach the public health order rules.

A nightclub is defined as any premises that is the subject of an on-premises licence in force under the Liquor Act 2007 that relates to a public entertainment venue (other than a cinema or theatre).

Nightclubs are subject to the one person per 4 square metres rule and must follow the requirements in an up-to-date COVID-19 Safety Plan.

No more than 5 performers should sing indoors, with 1.5 metres between performers and 5 metres between performers and the audience. The audience should not participate in singing or chanting indoors.

There should be no dancefloors.

A function centre is a building or place used for holding events, functions, conferences, and includes convention centres, exhibition centres and reception centres. Function centre operators must complete and register a COVID Safety Plan.

If a trade show or exhibition is held in a function centre and open to the public, the maximum capacity is one person per 2 square metres.

No more than 5 performers should sing indoors, with 1.5 metres between performers and 5 metres between performers and the audience. The audience should not participate in singing or chanting indoors.

There should be no dancefloors.

See also the COVID-19 Safety Plan for functions and conferences

Under the public health order, an entertainment facility means a theatre, cinema, music hall, concert hall, dance hall and the like, but does not include a pub or registered club.

Events must be ticketed with ticketholders assigned to specific seats for the 75% and 100% capacity calculation to be used.

Outdoor entertainment facilities must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan and can: 

Indoor entertainment facilities must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan and can: 

Group singing and chanting remains a high-risk activity for transmission should someone involved be infected.

  • No more than 5 performers should sing indoors, with 1.5m between performers and 5m between performers and the audience. 

  • In indoor areas, audience members and congregants should not participate in singing or chanting.

  • In outdoor areas, if the event is one where the audience or congregation are likely to participate in singing or chanting, such as religious services, audience members and congregants older than 12 years should wear a face mask.

  • There should be no dancefloors, except for weddings where the wedding party to a maximum of 20 are permitted.

To minimise infection risk:

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

You may also need a COVID-19 Safety Plan for your event or venue.

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 airflow, and
  • 1.5 metres in all other directions.

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

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

Performances and rehearsals of performing arts can be held outdoors with a maximum of 3000 people, subject to the one person per 2 square metres rule.

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

All participants should provide their contact details (name and phone number or email) where practicable.

Outdoor performances and rehearsals held at venues where the occupier is otherwise required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan (e.g. entertainment facilities, major recreation facilities and zoos), may have more than 3,000 people subject to the restrictions at those venues.

Fitness, sport and recreation

Gyms must be registered as COVID Safe and have a COVID-19 Safe Hygiene Marshal present when there are more than 25 people using the gym at the same time.

The gym COVID Safety Plan applies to any gym that is an indoor recreation facility open to members of the public. This includes gyms that are in a hotel or workplace.

Indoor gyms are subject to the one person per 4 square metres rule.

A maximum of 50 people per class applies to gym and recreation classes such as yoga, tai chi and pilates. 

If a gym is not open to members of the public – such as a gym in residential premises, a home or an apartment building – these requirements do not apply.

A gym does not include a studio for dance, yoga, pilates, gymnastics or martial arts.

See the COVID-19 Safety Plans that apply to

Community sporting activities are allowed, including training sessions and contact activities.

For community sporting activities that involve more than 100 participants, the organiser must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan for community sporting competitions and full training activities.

  • Participants include players, people who are training, officials and spectators.
  • 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.
  • The maximum number of participants at a community sporting activity must not exceed 3,000 participants, or one person per 2 square metres (whichever is less).
  • Record keeping for attendees must take place for all community sporting activities of more than 100 people where this is practical.

Learn more about minimising the risk of COVID-19 transmission when participating in community sports as a player or spectator.

Under the public health order, a major recreation facility means a building or place used for large-scale sporting or recreation activities that are attended by large numbers of people whether regularly or periodically, and includes theme parks, sports stadiums, showgrounds, racecourses and motor racing tracks. 

Major recreation facilities must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Indoor facilities: the maximum number of people at an indoor major recreation facility is the greater of

  • 75% of the fixed seating capacity and
  • one person per 2 square metres of space.

Outdoor facilities: the maximum number of people at an outdoor major recreation facility is the greater of 

  • the total of 100% of the fixed seating capacity of the recreation facility and one person per 2 square metres of any unfixed seating areas and
  • one person per 2 square metres of space in the facility.

Ticketing: if the maximum number of people is based on the percentage of the fixed seating capacity admission is only by ticket for a specific seat or seating area.

Under public health orders, the ‘occupier of premises’ includes the operator of a vehicle or vessel.

For boat owners, this means the number of people you can have on your boat is restricted to 25 people or one person per 2 square metres whichever is the greater.

Operators of commercial vessels must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan

Travel and holidays

There are no travel restrictions around travelling to or from regional or rural NSW, or other areas of NSW.

However, NSW Health currently recommends delaying non-essential travel within NSW, especially between Greater Sydney and regional areas.

For more information on rules and restrictions:

Visitor restrictions are in place for Greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Northern Beaches, Central Coast and Wollongong.

In other areas in NSW (including regional NSW), for a holiday home or short term rental

  • the square metres rule does not apply
  • up to 50 people may stay in a holiday home or holiday rental. 

If you are visiting a national park camping ground you must book ahead.

For more information on rules and restrictions:

If you are planning to visit other Australian states and territories, check local arrangements prior to your trip. Some states and territories may require travellers to quarantine on arrival.

If you are arriving in NSW, see the latest information on travel to and from NSW.

International travellers arriving in NSW will be charged for their hotel quarantine accommodation. This does not apply to travellers flying into NSW who have been in New Zealand for the previous 14 days.

Learn more about the quarantine rules.

Current restrictions on businesses

Check the COVID-19 Safety Plan that applies to your business for guidance on

If changes have been introduced for your industry since you last prepared a COVID-19 Safety Plan, see the latest version for new requirements.

Learn more about electronic recordkeeping if your business or organisation needs to collect customer details. 

Working from home

The requirement for an employer to allow an employee to work from home (if reasonably practicable) no longer applies.

See the guidance for employees and for employers.
 

Related information

Contacts and enquiries

Public health orders, record keeping and penalties

You can report any person failing to follow these rules to Crime Stoppers.

To deal with the public health risk of COVID-19 and its possible consequences, the Minister for Health and Medical Research has made a number of public health orders, under section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010.

Visit NSW  Legislation: COVID-19 related legislation for current orders, amendments and exemptions.

Where a person is required to record contact details electronically under the current public health order, the person must:

  • require every person including staff, customers (unless only collecting takeaway) and contractors, entering their premises to provide their name and contact details (phone number or email address) and time of entry, electronically, to
    • Service NSW, or
    • the occupier of the premises
  • ensure the information recorded by them is stored confidentially and securely and only used for the purpose of tracing COVID-19 infections, and kept for a period of at least 28 days
  • on request, provide the information to the Chief Health Officer as soon as practicable and not later than 4 hours after the request is made
  • ensure that someone is responsible for requiring contact details to be provided, and that someone is authorised to provide those records to the Chief Health Officer on request.

If a person who is required to provide their contact details electronically cannot do so because of age, disability or language barrier, another person may provide the details on their behalf. 

If there are unexpected circumstances and electronic check-in is not possible (such as unexpected internet failure or device breakdown), a person may provide their contact details directly to the occupier of the premises, but the occupier of the premises must digitise those contact details within 12 hours.

Electronic entry recording is compulsory for

Premises

  • amusement centres
  • aquariums
  • business premises that are used for auction houses, other than clearing houses
  • business premises that are used for nail salons, beauty salons, hairdressing salons, waxing salons, tanning salons, spas, tattoo parlours and massage parlours
  • crematoria
  • drive-in cinemas
  • entertainment facilities
  • hospitality venues:
    • casinos (all persons entering the premises)
    • food and drink premises (all persons consuming food or drink on the premises, plus staff and contractors)
    • micro-breweries, small distilleries holding a drink on-premises authorisation under the Liquor Act 2007 or cellar door premises (all persons consuming food or drink on the premises, plus staff and contractors)
    • pubs, small bars and registered clubs (all persons entering the premises, but not if they are entering the premises solely for the purpose of collecting food or drink to consume off the premises)
  • function centres
  • funeral homes
  • information and education facilities (other than libraries)
  • nightclubs
  • party buses
  • properties operated by the National Trust or the Historic Houses Trust
  • public swimming pools
  • recreation facilities (indoor)
  • recreation facilities (major)
  • sex on premises venues
  • sex services premises
  • strip clubs
  • vessels used for hosting functions or for commercial tours
  • zoological parks and reptile parks.

Premises on which the following events are held

  • controlled outdoor events
  • funerals and memorial services and gathering after funerals and memorial services
  • regional agricultural shows
  • wedding services and gatherings after wedding services.

Electronic recording of entry is not mandatory for persons entering premises to attend a significant event at a place of public worship (such as a wedding or funeral) or entering premises for a religious service.

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.

Penalties apply to people who intentionally spit at or cough on 

  • a public official
  • another worker while the worker is at work or travelling to or from work

in a way that would reasonably be likely to cause fear about the spread of COVID-19.

 

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