COVID-19: Stage 2 restrictions on social gatherings

3 minute read  25.03.2020

The Prime Minister has announced Stage 2 measures for the restriction on social gatherings, effective from 11.59pm (local time) 25 March 2020.


Following a meeting of the National Cabinet overnight on 24 March 2020, the Prime Minister announced further Stage 2 enhanced social distance measures and restrictions on non-essential gatherings and outdoor gatherings, effective from 11.59pm (local time) 25 March 2020. From that time, the following activities and venues will be prohibited:

  1. Cafes, with the exception of take away service and home delivery, and a limited number of cafes or canteens, such as those at hospitals or schools;
  2. Food courts, with the exception of delivery and take away;
  3. Auction houses;
  4. Real estate auctions and open house inspections, with the exception of private appointments for inspection;
  5. Hairdressers and barber shops, unless it is a maximum 30 minute appointment, and the '4 square metre rule' applies;
  6. Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons and tattoo parlours;
  7. Spas and massage parlours;
  8. Cinemas;
  9. Nightclubs;
  10. Casinos, gaming or gambling venues;
  11. Strip clubs, brothels and sex on premises venues;
  12. Concert venues, theatre, arenas, auditorium and stadiums, with the exception of live streaming of a performance by a small group and provided social distancing is observed;
  13. Amusement parks and arcades;
  14. Indoor and outdoor play centres;
  15. Community and recreation centres, except for the purpose of hosting essential voluntary or public services (such as food banks or homeless services);
  16. Health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre and spin facilities, saunas, bathhouses and wellness centres;
  17. Boot camps and personal training operating inside and outside, unless (for outside events only) there are no more than 10 people and social distancing is observed;
  18. Social sporting-based activities;
  19. Swimming pools;
  20. Galleries, museums, national institutions and historic sites;
  21. Libraries, community centres, and youth centres;
  22. Local government non-essential facilities and services, such as libraries and pools;
  23. Community facilities, such as community halls, clubs, RSLs and PCYCs; and
  24. Places of worship, weddings and funerals, except weddings with a maximum of 5 people and where the '4 square metre rule' applies and funerals with a maximum of 10 people and where the '4 square metre rule' applies.

Restrictions relating to the following venues and facilities will be a decision for each State and Territory:

  • Outdoor and indoor markets (excluding food markets);
  • Residential facilities at hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses (excluding permanent residents and workers);
  • Outdoor recreation at caravan and camping parks (with limited exceptions).

The measures will be operationalised in the States and Territories by way of legislative or directional orders.

Overnight, the Prime Minister announced that the Commonwealth Government will implement a ‘do not travel’ ban on Australians travelling overseas under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth), with a limited number of exemptions being managed by the Australian Border Force. The Commonwealth Government will also take action to prevent exploitative price gouging and exporting products that are essential to preventing and controlling the spread of coronavirus, including face masks, hand sanitiser and vital medicines. These measures will not impact normal consumer purchase of goods, commercial imports and exports, or other appropriate bulk sales.

The key priority continues to be the importance of social isolation measures as well as the importance of strict and rapid contact tracing of individuals to limit the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve.

The Prime Minister advised 'Australians should stay at home, unless shopping for essentials, travelling to and from work - where you cannot work from home, going to school and exercising. Keep visitors to your home at a minimum. In outdoor spaces do not congregate in groups'.

Additionally, this morning, the Victorian Premier indicated that the National Cabinet made the decision that States and Territories will soon need to take individual measures, because COVID-19 is moving at different speeds at different places. The Premier advised that Victoria will introduce Stage 3 measures.

Although these measures have not yet been determined, the Premier indicated that 'things like supermarkets, petrol stations, banks, post offices and bottle shops – and a number of other essential services – will be staying open.'

What does this mean for your business

If you own or operate a business in food and drink, retail, beauty and personal care services, entertainment, leisure and recreation, residential facility or outdoor recreation or other facility mentioned above, you must comply with the restrictions announced by the Prime Minister and cease to provide services from 11.59pm on 25 March 2020. You should take immediate action to implement and communicate with your stakeholders, staff and suppliers in relation to these measures.

Businesses not listed above or under any previous restrictions are permitted to continue to operate at the current time. The Government has not put in place lock down measures requiring individuals to remain in their home or all business to close, however Australians are being urged to stay home, unless it is essential that you leave your home. This includes implementing work from home arrangements wherever possible.

In any event, you should ensure that within your business, individuals (including staff and customers) within enclosed spaces adhere to the previously announced social distancing restrictions and the '4 square metre rule' and wherever possible, keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others.

Where to from here

These newly announced restrictions take effect from from 11.59pm (local time) 25 March 2020 and remain in effect until further notice.

Further information will be released shortly when the States and Territories make further announcements and operationalise the restrictions within their jurisdiction. Additionally, a need for Stage 3 restrictions has already been flagged.

The National Cabinet is due to meet again this evening on Wednesday 25 March 2020.

Depending on the way in which the measures are implemented within the States and Territories, it will be an offence if you do not comply with any directives, and the penalties may include a fine and/or imprisonment.

Links to key documents

24 March 2020 Prime Minister: Update on Coronavirus measures

25 March 2020 Victoria: Statement from the Premier


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