The New South Wales (NSW) government continues to ease restrictions amid reduced coronavirus disease (COVID-19) transmission. The state is primarily following the federal government's Step-Fp3 guidelines. However, officials will further ease gathering restrictions, allowing up to 30 people in outdoor areas and for group bookings at restaurants from Oct. 23.
Other statewide restrictions remain in effect. Groups are limited to 20 people for home visits and fitness classes. Nonessential businesses must follow the four-square meter rule, limiting capacity to one person per four square meters (43 square feet). Hospitality businesses can host one patron per two square meters (21 square feet) in outdoor areas, provided they obtain and keep contract details electronically, such via quick response (QR) codes. Corporate events and weddings are possible with a maximum of 150 people, while up to 100 people can attend religious services and funerals. Authorities permit up to 500 people to attend outdoor musical performances following the four-square-meter rule. Capacity limits do not apply to transport hubs, hospitals, courts, supermarkets, schools, hotel accommodations, and commercial operations, including office buildings, factories, warehouses, and mining and construction sites, among others. Officials continue to require employees to work from home, if feasible.
The government is maintaining enhanced restrictions for hospitality businesses. Bars, pubs, cafes, and restaurants can operate following capacity limits, with up to 300 people per distinct area. Only seated patrons can consume alcohol. These businesses and gyms must allocate one staff member to oversee COVID-19 safety; indoor gyms and venues with a capacity higher than 250 people must have a designated staff member on duty whenever open. Community sporting events can take place, but participation cannot exceed 500 people. Organizers must submit a COVID-19 safety plan to authorities for competitions larger than 20 people. Outdoor venues seating up to 40,000 people can accommodate patrons at 25-percent capacity. Nightclubs and music festivals remain banned.
Additionally, authorities encourage residents to wear masks in indoor public areas where social distancing is impractical, especially public transport; however, there is no mask mandate in the state. Officials also suggest people who have visited establishments with reported COVID-19 cases to self-quarantine for 14 days and get tested, even if asymptomatic.
Domestic Border Controls
NSW has further eased restrictions along the Victoria border. Officials are allowing people transiting Victoria, including ground travelers from South Australia, to enter New South Wales, provided they strictly transit the state and apply for a new transit permit. Residents of border communities in Victoria can travel within the established 50-km (31-mile) border region for any reason. NSW residents entering Victoria must stay within the border region or face quarantine. NSW residents returning from Victoria can enter the state with an entry permit but must self-isolate upon return or provide official documentation of a completed 14-day quarantine in Victoria. Travelers from other states transiting Victoria on direct routes to New South Wales are also exempt from quarantine requirements. Hundreds of security personnel are present at the border and monitoring the area with surveillance equipment. Travelers violating the orders could receive fines of up to AUD 11,000 (USD 7,660) and face up to six months in jail.
International Quarantine Requirements
Most travelers entering Australia must quarantine in government-designated facilities for 14 days in the city of arrival. New Zealand residents can enter New South Wales without quarantine. The New South Wales government charges all travelers required to quarantine to pay at the end of the period. Quarantine fees are AUD 3,000 (USD 2,130) for the first adult, AUD 1,000 (USD 710) per additional adult, and AUD 355 per child; the government does not charge fees for children under three years old. Travelers who purchased tickets with a confirmed arrival date before 2359 July 12 are exempt from payment. Authorities require quarantined travelers to take a COVID-19 test on the 10th day of quarantine. Refusal to take tests will result in an additional 10 days in quarantine.
Follow all official instructions. Abide by government health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Plan for transport disruptions and delivery delays between Victoria and New South Wales. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.