Entertainment, Live performance, arts and cultural activities

What can I do?

  • Cinemas and movie theatres can open with a maximum of 100 people (including staff) per cinema or movie theatre, or one person per 4 square metres, whichever is lesser.
  • Live performance can take place with a maximum of 100 people (including staff, performers and patrons) per indoor or outdoor space, or one person per 4 square metres, whichever is lower. Audience is to remain seated.
  • Recording or live streaming of performances can take place.
  • Indoor amusement centres, arcades and other play centres can now open with a maximum of 100 people (including staff) per indoor or outdoor space  or one person per 4 square metres, whichever is lower.
  • Open the kiosk/bar for patrons with appropriate COVID-safe measures in place.
  • Open Air Drive-in Cinemas can operate with up to 100 vehicles per Drive-In Cinema, per session.
  • Betting agencies (such as TAB) can open with a maximum of 100 people (including staff) per indoor or outdoor space (including staff) or one person per 4 square metres, whichever is lower.
  • Galleries, museums, national institutions and historic sites can remain open provided there is no more than one person per 4 square metres throughout the venue, and can commence guided tours for groups of up to 20 people (excluding the tour guide).
  • Art, dance and music classes or groups can have a maximum of 100 people (including staff) per indoor or outdoor space, or one person per 4 square metres, whichever is lower.
  • Outdoor amusements and attractions (such as the Zoo) sites can open provided there is no more than one person per 4 square metres throughout the venue, and can commence guided tours for groups of up to 20 people (excluding the tour guide).

What can’t I do?

  • Guided tours should not go for longer than two hours.
  • Performers should maintain physical distancing of 1.5m from audience members.

What are my responsibilities?

  • All venues should have a COVID Safety Plan.
  • There should be 1.5 metres between seated groups within cinemas or live performance venues.
  • Choirs, dance classes, performances, cinemas, indoor amusement centres and TABs should ask all patrons for their first name and phone number, and record it along with the date and time they attended the venue. Details can be safely destroyed after 28 days.
  • Venues should carefully manage the entry, exit and flow of patrons or visitors through their premises.
  • For Open Air Drive-in Cinemas, cars should be parked at least 1.5 metres apart.  No more than 100 people are to congregate in groups outdoors.
  • Venues should increase the frequency cleaning high touch areas and restroom facilities.
  • Maintain a minimum number of performers and support crew.
  • Staff or performers should stay home if they are unwell.

What are the community responsibilities?

  • Avoid gathering in communal areas such as foyers – patrons should leave the venue and not mingle.
  • Maintain physical distancing of 1.5 metres.
  • Maintain personal hygiene, including regular hand washing.
  • Stay home if unwell.
  • Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

What does the public need to know?

  • ­Restrictions are easing but your responsibility hasn’t.
  • ­Continue to practise good hand and respiratory hygiene, physical distancing, stay home if you are unwell and get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • You should also download the COVIDSafe app and ensure you provide your first name and contact number to any businesses that are required to ask for contact tracing purposes.
  • Be sensible when you have people over at your residence and have your own control measures in place. Know who is there and at what times, download the COVIDSafe app, join Flu Tracker and participate in important YourSay Community Panel engagements and health surveys that will help the ACT respond the best that it can.

What is defined as “arts and cultural activity”?

The term ‘arts and cultural activity’ includes any organised arts activity, be it through community arts organisations, commercial providers, individual arts activities and artistic practice.

Examples include live music events, performance, rehearsals, galleries, theatres, creating visual artwork and community art classes.

What is an ‘entertainment venue’?

An ‘entertainment venue’ is a venue operating for commercial purposes where the primary service offered is the provision of entertainment to patrons. Examples include cinemas, games arcades, escape rooms, bowling alleys, and indoor and outdoor amusement venues.

My organisation has paid staff. Is it safe for them to return to the office?

All employers are encouraged to consider alternative ways of delivering their business practices and services.  If it is not possible to work from home or redesign practices, it is vital that no worker comes to work if they have any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath.

If unwell, workers should contact their primary health care provider, to determine when it is safe for them to return to work.
If employees have COVID-19 symptoms, they should be encouraged to get tested.

More information on workplace health and safety.

What happens if there is a positive COVID-19 case within our arts facility or entertainment venue?

Restrictions are being eased gradually to ensure that as there are any new cases of COVID-19 in our community, we can address them quickly and effectively.

If someone tests positive for COVID-19 the health authorities will perform contact tracing to determine where they have been and who they have been in contact with.

If your organisation is impacted, health authorities will contact you and will advise you what to do next.

To help contact tracing it is recommended people download the COVIDSafe app.

What if restrictions make it unfeasible to recommence activities or for venues to reopen?

Reopening venues and activities in line with the Public Health Directions is a decision for you, including the feasibility of activities. The ACT and Commonwealth Governments have provided a range of supports for businesses who qualify.


Organisations and businesses should make decisions on re-opening based on relevant health and work health and safety advice.

Where can we get advice on how to set up our venue to meet physical distancing requirements?

You should set up your venue in a way that facilitates social distancing, specifically the four square metre rule and 1.5m distancing between people, which should be facilitated where possible and as much as possible. You should also carefully manage ingress and egress at your venue with a view to ensuring that people do not mill at entries and exits, and that those who are entering or exiting a venue can maintain their distance from one another.
Given the variety of venues and the activities taking place within those venues, there is no standard answer.

To help venues with determining their capacity, a factsheet is available in the Business Resource Kit .

How many groups can use a single space or venue?

There is no restriction per venue, but rather per indoor and outdoor space.

The Public Health Directions outline how many people can occupy an indoor or outdoor space at a given time. Provided that they can be accommodated within the one person per 4 square metre rule, each indoor or outdoor space within a venue can have up to 100 people at any given time. This number decreases if the space is smaller. For example, a space which is accommodating 50 patrons and 25 performers would need to be 300m2.

Will the COVID-19 funding support for arts organisations change now that certain arts facilities may be expanding their activities?

The funding support that has been put in place for arts organisations was to provide assistance through to the end of 2020.

As facilities begin to reopen, there may be a need for other support in some cases.  Each request for support will be considered on a case-by-case basis, subject to available funding.

Information on funding and support for the arts sector is available on the Arts ACT website.

Galleries, museums national institutions or historic site

When can we open our private gallery to the public? How are we expected to maintain physical distancing in a gallery setting?

Galleries have been able to open since 30 May 2020, although when they open is up to their individual circumstances.

Galleries are required to develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan which outlines how they will manage public entry and exit points, the movement of visitors through the gallery in a single direction, to ensure physical distancing requirements are met, signage, hygiene and infection control measures, including the management and cleaning of high touch surfaces.


As of the commencement of Step 2.2, galleries can offer organised tours for up to 20 patrons (excluding the tour guide).

Gallery operators can download signage to help advise patrons from the Resources page.

What about national institutions such as the National Gallery of Australia - when will they re-open?

National institutions have been able to open from 30 May 2020, although some are taking some time to prepare for opening to the public.

Each institution has developed, or is developing, a COVID-19 Safety Plan for the appropriate management of groups of people visiting.

In general, visitors will be required to move in a single direction and will not be able to gather in large groups in particular parts of the institution.

Not all exhibitions will be open and there will be strict control of entry and exit points.

Some institutions may require ticketed entry.

Check the website of the institutions for further information.

Can I hold a catered function?

Yes, functions can be held on the proviso that they do not exceed 100 people (excluding staff working at the function) in any indoor or outdoor space, or 1 person per 4 square metres, whichever is lesser.

The function is must comply with restrictions and requirements applicable to cafes, restaurants and hospitality venues.

How many people can be included in a tour booking?

Arts and cultural institutions, including national institutions, can include up to 20 patrons in a tour booking, provided that every space the tour visits can accommodate both 20 patrons and staff in line with the one person per 4 square metre rule. Tours must not exceed two hours in duration.

Outdoor amusements/attractions

How many groups can use a single space or venue?

There is no limit on the number of groups, but the total number of people in a particular indoor or outdoor space must not exceed a maximum 100 people, or one person per 4 square metre rule, whichever is lesser.

There are indoor and outdoor spaces at the venue – do I need separate precautions or a separate COVID Safety Plan for each area?

You should consider movement between areas to ensure that people do not mingle in walkways or hallways and that people coming and going between areas are able to maintain an acceptable distance from one another.

You do not need a separate COVID Safety Plan for each area.

Choirs, bands, orchestras, and other live music

Can musicians play at indoor venues now?

Musicians can rehearse and perform indoors. There is a maximum of 100 people (including performers, patrons, and staff) per indoor space, or one person per 4 square metres (whichever is lesser) with physical distancing, including spacing of groups at least 1.5 metres apart. Patrons must remain seated.

There should be low contact between musicians and low use of shared equipment.

High-touch surfaces require a cleaning and hygiene regime.

Where an audience is involved, individuals and groups should be seated at least 1.5 metres apart from each other, for example, if a person books to attend on their own, they should be seated at least 1.5 metres from a person who has made a separate booking. If a group of 10 books together, they can sit together, however need to be at least 1.5 metres away from other groups/individuals.

Are outdoor performances allowed?

Outdoor performances are permitted with a maximum of 100 people (including patrons, performers, and staff) or one person per 4 square metres of public seating area whichever is lesser.

Where an audience is involved, individuals and groups should be seated at least 1.5 metres apart from each other, for example, if a person books to attend on their own, they should be seated at least 1.5 metres from a person who has made a separate booking. If a group of 10 books together, they can sit together, however need to be at least 1.5 metres away from other groups/individuals.

When will festivals be allowed?

Large gatherings such as music festivals are not allowed for the short term.  These larger gatherings will be considered in future stages of eased restrictions.

Can our community choir rehearse?

Gatherings of up to 100 people (including performers, conductors, instructors and any audience members) or one person per 4 square metres, whichever is lesser, can take place, including choirs.

Performers are to be appropriately distanced from each other (minimum of 1.5 metres) and audience members to minimise risks.

Group singing is considered a high-risk activity as the increased projection of voices increases the chances of spreading COVID-19.

Can a brass band rehearse and perform in an indoor space?

Brass bands can rehearse in an indoor space. Gatherings must not exceed 100 people (including performers and audience members) or one person per 4 square metres, whichever is lesser.

Where an audience is involved, individuals and groups should be seated at least 1.5 metres apart from each other, for example, if a person books to attend on their own, they should be seated at least 1.5 metres from a person who has made a separate booking. If a group of 10 books together, they can sit together, however need to be at least 1.5 metres away from other groups/individuals.

Given the nature of brass instruments and the potential for exchange of saliva with people around them, care will need to be given to designing appropriate physical distancing measures between musicians and the audience to ensure that people are not at risk.

Can musicians/performers share instruments, microphones or props at rehearsal?

Performers should minimise the sharing of any equipment.

Any equipment that is shared should be thoroughly cleaned between uses.

Bands/artists often travel across the border to perform in Canberra. Can this recommence?

The ACT’s borders are not closed.

Check the NSW Government COVID-19 website for more information.

Can we dance at live music events?

No. Patrons at any live music event, whether as a main performance or ancillary to other activity such as eating or drinking at a hospitality venue, must remain seated.

Theatre, dance and circus

When can we start indoor dance, theatre, circus classes, rehearsals and performance?

Up to 100 people (including instructors and parents) can gather for lessons, rehearsals or performance in an indoor space or one person per 4 square metres, whichever is lesser.

Outdoor theatre, dance or circus lessons, rehearsals or performance are also allowed with a maximum of 100 people (including patrons, performers, and staff) observing social distancing.

Where an audience is involved, individuals and groups should be seated at least 1.5 metres apart from each other, for example, if a person books to attend on their own, they should be seated at least 1.5 metres from a person who has made a separate booking. If a group of 10 books together, they can sit together, however need to be at least 1.5 metres away from other groups/individuals.

The space must be able to accommodate the one person per 4 square metre rule for every person in attendance, including babies and children.

Contact is permitted, but there should be low use of shared equipment.

If equipment is shared, it should be thoroughly cleaned between users.

The venue must ensure that entry and exit into the room is managed to minimise contact between different groups of people.

Restrictions related to dance activities are the same as those for social sport in the Public Health Directions.

Can I serve alcohol and food at performances?

Yes, subject to the venue’s licensing provisions.  Alcohol can be served to patrons who are not eating in groups of up to ten patrons. Further information can be found under the cafes, restaurants and licenced venues FAQs.

Please see caf├ęs and restaurants for advice about serving alcohol during live performances.

Art practice

When will art classes be on again?

The decision to resume art classes is one for the relevant business or organisation offering the class.

Classes will have to conform with the public gathering requirements, consisting of groups of 100 people or one person per 4 square metres, whichever is lesser, with physical distancing of 1.5 metres between people.

Once classes resume, businesses should consider a cleaning program to thoroughly clean shared equipment and high touch surfaces.
Check with the class organiser and the venue as to its availability.

Cinemas and movie theatres

There are multiple screening rooms in my cinema complex. How many people can attend?

There can be a maximum of 100 people (including staff and any other personnel) per cinema or movie theatre, or one person per 4 square metres, whichever is lesser.

What are the requirements for opening?

Cinemas must complete a COVID Safety Plan prior to opening. Cinemas must consider how to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Groups of patrons must be spaced at least 1.5m apart.

For example, if a person books a ticket to attend on their own, they should be seated at least 1.5 metres from a person who has made a separate booking. If a group of 10 books together, they can sit together, but need to be at least 1.5 metres away from other groups/individuals.

Do I need to reduce the number of patrons waiting in the foyer areas?

You need to ensure no more than 100 people (including staff) gather in each indoor or outdoor space, including your foyer. You might consider measures to decrease the number of people gathering in your foyer, such as staggered session commenced times and online ticketing.

Can the kiosk open?

Yes, provided the maximum number of patrons and staff in an indoor or outdoor space is observed.

Can I serve alcohol without food for patrons?

Please refer to the guidelines/FAQ for hospitality businesses.

Open-air drive-in cinemas

Can open-air drive-in cinemas open?

Yes, within a maximum of 100 patron vehicles. There may be more than 100 patrons spread across those 100 vehicles. Gatherings of patrons outside their vehicles, such as at shared facilities, must not exceed 100 people (including staff and other personnel).

Can food and alcohol be served at the venue?

Yes, subject to the venue’s licensing provisions, but please refer to the Public Health Restrictions and requirements for cafes, restaurants and other hospitality businesses.

acknowledgement icon
Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

Last Updated: June 19 2020