01 May 2020

Why is the ACT Government easing restrictions?

We acknowledge there is a lot we have achieved in working together to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the ACT.

The ACT has managed the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic exceptionally well.

It is a reflection of our community’s dedication to physical distancing, as well as the hard work of the many health professionals and public health experts that have spent the past six weeks testing patients and contact tracing.

The ACT Government is now in a position to begin easing certain restrictions with low-risk changes that will support families and our economy.

When will the restrictions be eased further?

It is not a race to lift restrictions and we are not going to move too early or take unnecessary risks.

We need to ensure that restrictions are sustainable in the long term. Any future changes to restrictions will be carefully considered and with our most vulnerable community members in mind.

This will be a gradual process, and we will need Canberrans to continue playing their part to prevent a new wave of cases.

We have expanded our testing which will give us valuable information as we make decisions around easing restrictions further.

You can find more information on testing on our Getting tested webpage.

Why aren’t we easing restrictions further if we have no or few confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the ACT?

We acknowledge there is a lot we have achieved in working together to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the ACT and how difficult it has been for Canberrans.

However, it is not a race to lift restrictions and we are not going to move too early or take unnecessary risks.

Any future changes to restrictions will be carefully considered and with our most vulnerable community members in mind.

We have expanded our testing which will give us valuable information as we make decisions around easing restrictions further.

You can find more information on testing on our Getting tested webpage.

Why do we need to continue physical distancing with the new restrictions?

The great work that Canberrans have done together to flatten the curve is acknowledged. However, Canberrans must continue playing their part to prevent a new wave of cases of COVID-19. A lapse in focus can have significant consequences such as putting the most vulnerable people in the community at risk.

This means you should still continue to:

  • Keep a distance of 1.5 metres between yourself and other people,as well as following the 1 person per 4 square metres rule in indoor spaces.
  • Avoid shaking hands, hugging, or kissing other people.
  • Use “tap and go” payments ,instead of cash.
  • Minimise visits to vulnerable people, such as those in aged care facilities or hospitals, elderly people, infants, or people with compromised immune systems.
  • Follow the current restrictions on groups and gatherings.

What Public Health Direction has been changed?

From 11.59pm, 1 May 2020, members of one household can visit another household, as long as physical distancing of 1 person per 4 square metres can be observed, and where there are no other visitors present.

To view the direction, see the Public Health Directions webpage.

What changes have been made?

We are now advising Canberrans that they can make some small, low-risk changes to support families and our economy. Therefore, we are relaxing restrictions as follows:

  • Members of one household are now able to visit another household, as long as social distancing of 1 person per 4 square metres can be observed, and as long as no other visitors are present.
  • Canberrans can leave their homes for non-essential shopping purposes.
  • Restrictions on travel in NSW have been eased. Two adults and any dependent children (under 18 years of age) can leave the ACT to visit friends and family in NSW, for the purposes of providing care and support.

It is important that Canberrans follow the NSW regulations when they are in NSW and adhere to physical distancing and good hand and respiratory hygiene. For information regarding visiting NSW households, please visit https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/what-you-can-and-cant-do-under-rules/two-people-visitation-rule

Follow the current restrictions on groups and gatherings.

What is defined as a household?

For the purpose of the Public Health (Non-Essential Gatherings) Emergency Direction 2020 (No 2) a household is defined as persons who ordinarily reside at the same residential premises.

To view the direction, see the Public Health Directions webpage.

Will fines still be applied to people who do not follow the rules?

Police may apply penalties to people who do not follow the Public Health Directions. You will need to abide by rules in the jurisdiction you are travelling to.

Check the rules for each state or territory for more information.

How many visitors can I have at my house?

Restrictions on gatherings inside the family home have been relaxed to allow one household to visit another household, as long as there are no other visitors in attendance.

This means that people who live together in one residence can visit your home, if physical distancing of 1 person per 4 square metres can be observed.

If visitors do not live in the same residence as each other, you can have a maximum of two visitors at a time.

Follow the current restrictions on groups and gatherings.

Can my household visit my parents at the same time that my sister’s household visits my parents?

No. Only people from one household (meaning people who live together in the same residence) can visit another household at a time.

If visitors do not live in the same residence as each other, there can be a maximum of two visitors.

All gatherings must maintain physical distancing measures of 1 person per 4 square metres.

Can my children have play dates?

Yes, you can have playdates at your home, as long as they adhere to the limits on visitors to your home.

This means that up to two children can visit your home on their own, or all members of one other household can visit your home at a time, as long as physical distancing can be maintained.

However, the limit on outdoor gatherings remains at two people (unless they are part of the same household). Playgrounds in the ACT remain closed.

Physical distancing and good hand and respiratory hygiene must be practised at all times.

Can two households gather outside the home together?

No. The limit on outdoor gatherings remains at 2 people, or those from the same household.

Follow the current restrictions on groups and gatherings.

Can I still go outside?

Yes. However, the limit on outdoor gatherings remains at 2 people, or those from the same household.

Follow the current restrictions on groups and gatherings.

Can my family visit mum on Mother’s Day?

Yes, as long as only members of one household visit at a time.

Physical distancing and good hand and respiratory hygiene must be practised at all times.

Can multiple households come together under the new changes?

Yes, but only members of one household can visit another residence at one time.

Physical distancing and good hand and respiratory hygiene must be practised at all times.

Can I have a dinner party?

Yes, you can have a small dinner party as long as it adheres to the ACT’s restrictions on visitors to homes.

People from one other household can visit your home at a time.

If your visitors do not live in the same residence, you can have a maximum of two visitors from different households at a time.

All gatherings must maintain physical distancing measures of 1 person per 4 square metres and good hand and respiratory hygiene must be practised at all times.

Can I go shopping for non-essential items?

People can leave their home for non-essential shopping such as for retail and electronics.

Physical distancing and good hand and respiratory hygiene must be practised at all times.

Easing of restrictions does not mean that all shops will reopen, as businesses may choose to remain closed.

Follow the current restrictions on groups and gatherings.

Can I open my retail store?

People can now leave their home for non-essential shopping such as for retail and electronics.

Retailers are encouraged to open, however are not obliged to open under these easing of restrictions. You will find more about workplaces in the ACT on our Information for Businesses page.

Retail stores and businesses must put in place measures to ensure staff and customers maintain physical distancing by keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between themselves and other people, and all stores must adhere to the 1 person per 4 square metre rule.

More information on physical distancing and good hygiene is on the Protecting yourself and others page.

Posters about practising good hygiene that you can print to hang for employees and customers are on the Resources page.

Can I visit family in NSW?

Canberrans should only travel outside of the Canberra region to visit family and friends for the purpose of providing care and support. A maximum of two adults (and any dependent children under 18 years of age) can visit another person’s home in NSW.

For information about visiting NSW households, please visit https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/what-you-can-and-cant-do-under-rules/two-people-visitation-rule

Physical distancing and good hand and respiratory hygiene must be practised at all times.

As much as possible, travel outside of the Canberra region should be carefully considered, as someone bringing the virus into the Territory from interstate remains one of the biggest risks for transmission of COVID-19 in the ACT.

You will need to abide by rules in the jurisdiction you are travelling to. Check the rules for each state or territory for more information.

Can I go for a surf on the south coast?

No. Canberrans should only travel outside the Canberra region to NSW to visit family and friends at their homes, not for holiday or recreational purposes – this means no surfing on the south coast.

As much as possible, travel outside of the Canberra region should be carefully considered, as someone bringing the virus into the Territory from interstate remains one of the biggest risks for transmission of COVID-19 in the ACT.

You will need to abide by rules in the jurisdiction you are travelling to. Check the rules for each state or territory for more information.

Can I go on an interstate holiday?

No. You should not travel outside of the Canberra region for holiday purposes.

Restrictions on travel in NSW have been eased and Canberrans can leave the ACT to visit friends and family at their homes in NSW, to provide care or support, as long as they follow the NSW regulations. It is important that Canberrans follow the regulations of the jurisdiction that they are visiting while ensuring that physical distancing measures are adhered to.

For more information regarding other jurisdictions, please visit our Check the rules for each state or territory page.

As much as possible, travel outside of the Canberra region should be carefully considered, as someone bringing the virus into the Territory from interstate remains one of the biggest risks for transmission of COVID-19 in the ACT.