What step three of restriction-easing will mean fo...

What step three of restriction-easing will mean for you

As we hurtle rapidly towards June, business owners – especially those with dine-in establishments) are looking forward to a further easing of COVID-19 restrictions with a hope that business will begin to return to normal. But what will step three of restriction-easing mean for you?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed last week that the Federal Government remains committed to the three-step process of recovery from lockdown and that it plans to move to step three in July. While states and territories each have their own schedules for relaxing the restrictions, Mr Morrison said the Federal plan is that step three will remove the cap of 100 people for indoor gatherings, which will be replaced by a four-square metre rule for venues.

“That 100 cap for step three across all areas will be removed and it will be replaced by a four-square metre rule application to those premises. So depending on how large your premise is, and that four-square metre rule applies to each room within that premise,” Mr Morrison said.

“Now, that will mean obviously for much larger premises that will provide much greater scope. This is not happening immediately. This is part of step three. So states and territories who are making decisions about when they’re moving to that step three, they will now be moving based on the policy of four square metres being applied and those caps of 100 for a particular building, they won’t be in place.

“It’ll be determined on that basis. The four-square metre rule by room. Now, the four-square metre rule continues to be reviewed by the AHPPC – the medical expert panel – and further work is being done on that, particularly for much smaller premises.”

As for the states and territories, here are their plans:

Australian Capital Territory

From noon on Friday, June 19, the ACT will implement Step 2.2 of its recovery plan, which will see licensed venues can open with a maximum of 100 patrons per indoor or outdoor space or one person per four-square metres, whichever is lesser (staff excluded).

Alcohol can be served without a meal, but patrons must be seated and in groups of no more than 10 people. If dining in, groups can be a maximum of 20 people. Patrons can order at the bar or counter but must be seated to consume their drinks or meals.

Live music can recommence, but performers should maintain a minimum distance from patrons of at least 1.5 metres.

Tables must be spaced in a way that ensures that patrons at different table remain 1.5 metres apart. This could mean that tables are more than 1.5 metres apart. Cellar doors can open for tastings without food for groups of no more than 10 people who are seated. Keno and TAB facilities are allowed to open within licensed venues (poker machines must remain closed).

New South Wales

From July 1, the one person per four-square metre rule in venues will apply, with no maximum. All activity must be seated only.

Customers consuming food or drink on the premises must provide their name and contact details, and operators must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan and keep a record of all people entering the premises.

Northern Territory

The NT moved to its stage three on June 5, allowing bars, pubs and clubs to operate without food being compulsory and the two-hour patron limit has been removed.

The 1.5m social distancing requirement remains in place.


The Queensland Government’s plan states a maximum of 100 people will be allowed at gatherings from July 10. The four-square metre rule applies when indoors and venues need to follow a COVID Safe plan.

South Australia

SA is moving to stage three on Monday, June 29 and will follow the Federal Government’s recommendations of replacing the 100-person cap with the one person per four-square metres rule.


From noon, Wednesday 17 June, gatherings will increase to maximum of 80 people (indoor and outdoor) with physical distancing of 1.5 metres (where practicable) and a maximum of one person per four-square metres applicable.


As of June 22, the number of people allowed inside venues will increase from 20 to 50 and the four-square metre rule will be in place. Venues will need to collect contact details for all guests.

Patrons buying a drink will no longer be required to order food, but table service will be in place with no bar service allowed.

Western Australia

From June 6 the number of people at non-work gatherings has increased, and additional businesses can reopen. The four-square metre rule has been revised to two-square metres per person for venues with physical distancing recommended.

Food businesses and licensed premises may operate but only with seated service and alcohol may be served without a meal at licensed premises (patrons must be seated). Non-work indoor and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people per single undivided space, and up to 300 people in total per venue over multiple spaces.

The Federal Government also stipulates:

  • One person per four square metres;
  • staying 1.5 metres away from other people whenever and wherever possible;
  • maintaining good hand washing and cough/sneeze hygiene;
  • staying home when unwell, and getting tested if you have respiratory symptoms or a fever;
  • downloading the COVIDSafe app to allow identification and traceability of people that have been in contact with a confirmed COVID case; and
  • developing COVIDSafe plans for workplaces and premises.


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