All states and territories have embarked on their roadmaps to reopening, with restaurants, cafes and bars around the country now allowed to seat anywhere between 

The staged process commenced at the end of May with Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing a three-step plan to relax restrictions on 8 May. However, it’s up to individual states and territories to decide on the details and timeframe. 

Australian Capital Territory 

Venues in the Australian Capital Territory, including restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs can seat up to 20 guests at a time in any indoor or outdoor space. The cap excludes staff and patrons waiting for takeaway. The one person per 4 square meter requirement includes both staff and all patrons on premise. First names and phone numbers of each guest must be collected for contact tracing. 

If a venue has multiple, separate indoor and outdoor spaces, operators may seat up to 20 guests in each individual area. However, there must be dedicated waitstaff for each area and operators should reduce the contact wherever possible by managing exit and entry points and shared areas such as bathrooms. A one person per 4 square meter rule applies to each space. 

As of 11.59pm on 5 June, venues are required to implement a COVID-19 safety plan, which must be provided when requested by an authorised person. Businesses also need to check the COVID-19 Dine-in Checklist

Diners cannot consume alcohol on-site unless it is accompanied by a meal. Takeaway liquor sales are permitted but are subject to liquor licence or permit conditions. 

Food courts remain closed. 

The territory government has provided answers to frequently asked questions

New South Wales 

Space permitting, venues in New South Wales can welcome up to 50 guests for seated dining at one time, excluding staff. Venues with multiple existing seated areas can seat up to 50 guests per each space. However, bookings are capped at a maximum of 10 people per group and there must be 4 square meters per person. 

The restrictions apply to restaurants and cafes, as well as pubs, clubs, small bars, cellar doors, micro-breweries, small distilleries and casinos that serve food. Alcohol can only be consumed alongside food. 

Contact details, including a name and telephone number or email address must be collected when guests arrive, and operators must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan for restaurants and cafes or for pubs, clubs, small bars, cellar doors, micro-breweries, small distilleries and casinos.

Food courts remain closed for dine-in trade. 

Northern Territory 

The Northern Territory is the first jurisdiction to reach stage three of its roadmap. As of 5 June, venues are allowed to operate without limits on diner numbers or time spent in a venue. However, tables should be spaced at least 1.5 meters apart and operators need to understand the guidelines for food businesses and complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan prior to reopening. 


Queensland entered stage two of its roadmap at noon on 1 June. Restaurants, cafes and pubs across the state can seat up to 20 patrons. Outback venues can welcome up to 50 people at a time, but guests must show ID. Physical distancing must be adhered to, including limiting capacity to one person per 4 square meters. 

Guests must be seated, with bar and buffet-style service still prohibited. All venues must complete a COVID safe checklist, which must be displayed prominently. 

Operators who have completed a Statement of Compliance for the approved industry-specific COVID Safe Plan can seat more than 20 diners providing their venue is divided into distinct areas. 

Staff must complete a free micro-credential online through TAFE Queensland. 

Food courts can offer takeaway only. 

South Australia 

Restaurants, cafes, wineries, pubs, breweries, and bars can have up to 80 seated guests in total, split across separate dining areas, which can have no more than 20 patrons each. Density is capped at one person per 4 square meters. Alcohol can be consumed without food at wineries, cellar doors and pubs but patrons must be seated (bar service is prohibited). Operators must complete a COVID Safe Plan and must produce it upon request. Businesses who don’t have a completed plan available could be fined $5,000. 

A number of things are prohibited including communal food or drink services (buffets, salad bars, drink dispensers); gaming areas or gambling facilities; shared equipment (pool tables, darts, game consoles) and reusable equipment (shisha, hookah, smoking or vaping).


Venues can serve up to 20 guests at a time in enclosed spaces via table service and alcohol can only be purchased with a meal. Maximum density is capped at one person per 4 square meters. Businesses will need to collect first names and phone numbers of all visitors for contact tracing and store them for 28-days. Premises need to be deep cleaned before opening and appropriate signage must be displayed. Operators must also create a plan that takes into account the Hospitality Industry Guidelines for Coronavirus (COVID-19), which contains more details about the above requirements, as well as guidance from WorkSafe Victoria. 

Hospitality professionals are encouraged to complete a free online training module

Food courts can offer takeaway only. 

Western Australia 

Under stage three, which commenced on 6 June, the 4 square metre rule has been revised to 2 square metres per person for all WA venues. Venues can have a maximum of 100 dine-in patrons per undivided space or 300 patrons per venue (excluding staff) and must maintain a victor register for contact tracing. 

Alcohol can be served at licensed premises without a meal, so long as patrons are seated. 

Operators need to update and display their COVID Safety Plan Certificate  in accordance with guidelines and must also display signage. 

Staff need to complete the COVID-19 Hospitality & Tourism Hygiene Course, developed in collaboration with the AHA WA. 

Food courts can reopen, however patrons must remain seated when eating. Visitor contact details do not need to be collected. 

Non-compliance is an offence that could result in a 12-month prison sentence or a $50,000 fine. 


Restaurants, cafes, pubs, clubs, hotels, RSLs and sports clubs can serve food and/or drinks to up to 40 guests. These restrictions apply to venues as whole, regardless of how many separate dining areas exist, and there must be 4 square meters per person. Takeaway customers are not included in the limit but do count towards density. Contact details need to be collected for the person who booked or at least one diner from walk-in groups. 

Food courts can provide takeaway only. 

Businesses must  develop a COVID Safe Workplace Plan (for either Cafes, Restaurants and Takeaway Food Services or Pubs, Taverns and Bars and Clubs [Hospitality]) before reopening or expanding their operations. 

Image: Kayleigh Harrington

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