Across Australia, efforts to suppress the spread of COVID-19 and manage elevated pressures on our healthcare system have been successful to date. With COVID-19 vaccine development and treatment plans evolving in the background, our immediate focus is now the safe and incremental scaling ‘out of #iso’ for Australian businesses and individuals alike.
As individuals, and a collective community, we now face the challenge of how to live and work in a COVID-19 safe (as can be) world. While the playbook for this next chapter is of course unproven, it is now drafted and ready for testing. Promising plenty of new beginnings, some COVID-19 commandments of course remain – social distancing, good hygiene, and widespread testing – but semantics vary by State and Territory. With a focus on where things stand for businesses, here’s what you need to know based on your location:
A measured return for businesses, social gatherings and education
The Government’s 3-Step Framework for a COVIDSafe Australia outlines how States and Territories will gradually lift baseline restrictions between now and July. The nuances are to be managed at State level, depending on local circumstances.
From May 15, the following is permitted:
- for businesses permitted to open, owners can decide what works best for them
- employers must allow employees to work from home where reasonable and practical
- public gatherings of up to 10 people
- food and drink premises can seat up to 10 people at a time
- up to 5 visitors may visit another household at a time
- public schools are open full-time from May 25
- from June 1, travel to regional NSW for holiday purposes is permitted, plus visits to museums, galleries and libraries. Travel restrictions will be lifted within the state. Cafés, restaurants, pubs and clubs will be permitted to seat up to 50 people (provided venues can maintain 4 square meters per customer).
Victoria’s State of Emergency will remain until May 31.
As of May 12, however, Victorians can leave their homes for:
- work if it’s not possible to do this at home (businesses which are not facing restricted trading are advised to follow key steps to enhance safety)
- shop for food and supplies
- access medical services or exercise compassionate needs
- visit friends and family (if essential)
- exercise and outdoor recreation (from May 26, playgrounds, communal gym equipment and skate parks will be open)
- restaurant, pub and/café dine-in services will commence from June 1 and will be restricted to 20 people per space. Public and private gatherings may include up to 20 people (private gatherings include members of the household)
- further lifting of restrictions is expected from 22 June.
QLD has released a detailed timeline for the easing of restrictions through to July 10.
As of May 15, those in Queensland can:
- work from home if it works for the business and their staff, with businesses advised to follow these guidelines to lower risk in the workplace
- gatherings of up to 10 people are permitted in certain settings, including dining-in at restaurants/cafés, pools and personal training
- gatherings in homes of 5 guests are permitted
- schools and kindergartens re-opening gradually from May 11
- further easing of restrictions is expected from 12 June.
SA has released a roadmap for easing COVID-19 restrictions, with the promise of regular reviews.
From May 11:
- exemptions to the 10 person max. include office buildings, retail stores, schools, universities etc., provided social distancing and good hygiene are practised
- up to 10 people at a time may: exercise outdoors together, attend auctions, RSL clubs, community clubs, places of worship, campsites etc.
- restaurants/cafés are permitted to seat up to 20 people (10 indoors and 10 outdoors) and, provided they are licensed, can serve alcohol with food
- from June 1, pubs may serve alcohol to seated patrons without food, various venues (including restaurants, gyms and galleries) may admit up to 80 people if they are contained in separate areas and in groups of up to 20.
Northern Territory has released a three-stage roadmap to the new normal through to June 5:
- as businesses plan to re-open, they are required to submit a COVID-19 Safety Plan Checklist
- by June 5, all Territory businesses, services, facilities and organisations require a COVID-19 Safety Plan
- from May 15, restaurants, pubs and cafes are permitted to open (alcohol can be served with food).
- further easing of restrictions expected from June 5.
Phase 2 of WA’s Roadmap to Recovery has been effective from May 18:
- Western Australians are encouraged to return to work, provided they are well and not vulnerable
- businesses must comply with the COVID Safety Guidelines and prepare a COVID Safety Plan before re-opening
- indoor and outdoor non-work gatherings of max. 20 people are permitted
- cafés/restaurants with meal service, including within pubs, bars, clubs and hotels permitted for up to 20 people
- restrictions on some regional travel and fitness/recreation have been reduced.
TAS released its Roadmap to Recovery on May 8, with Stage One effective from May 18:
- working from home is encouraged where possible, but stay home if unwell
- workplaces must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that complies with minimum COVID-19 safety standards
- gatherings of up to 10 people indoors and outdoors are permitted, visitors to households increase to up to 5 people, restaurants and cafes in all settings may open for table service for up to 10 people at a time
- From May 25, kindergarten and schools will return in a phased approach and residents in aged care facilities may have one visit per day by up to 2 visitors.
The ACT has released information about industry-specific restrictions, with the following effective from May 8:
- indoor and outdoor gatherings can have a maximum of 10 people (excluding funerals and a gathering of two households)
- from May 15, restaurants, cafés and other hospitality venues are permitted to seat up to 10 patrons (this applies to pubs and clubs offering a seated dining service)
- public schools will return to classrooms from May 18, with a 3-staged transition to follow
- further lifting of restrictions from May 30, allowing indoor gatherings of up to 20 people (including gyms and cafés), the re-opening of outdoor attractions, museums and galleries.
A collective effort
Limiting the spread of COVID-19 hinges on adhering to new non-negotiable community norms such as physical distancing, good hygiene practices and:
- keeping 1.5 metres away from others whenever and wherever possible
- practising good hand washing and coughing/sneezing hygiene
- disinfecting communal areas
- staying home if unwell, and getting tested if experiencing respiratory symptoms or fever
- consider downloading the COVIDSafe app.
To find out more
For many of us at Honan, the past few months have challenged our mental health like never before. If you’re the same, be sure to check out our guide to enhancing your mental health through this time, which includes tips for supporting others around you.
For a deeper dive into COVID-19 health guidelines across Australia, be sure to visit the Government’s online health portal at healthdirect.com.au.
Safe Work Australia also has many useful resources, including 10 Guiding Principles to maintaining safe working environments.
We’re with you all the way
As always, we’re here to support and serve you. As restrictions ease across the coming months, we’ll be navigating the ‘back to office’ transition too. Our leaders around Australia are working hard to facilitate a safe and smooth recalibration to a new norm in line with Government guidelines. In the meantime, our remote-working team is ready to support you via phone, email or video conferencing. Stay well, and stay in touch.