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What is an Essential Business in Australia?

Those businesses that provide a service or product that is necessary for the health and well-being of the public are considered to be essential businesses. The Australian government has released a list of restrictions on non-essential businesses.

Essential Businesses Remaining Open:

  • Supermarkets and grocery stores.
  • Medical centers.
  • Pharmacies.
  • Petrol stations.
  • Waste industry.
  • Utilities companies.
  • Banks.
  • New agencies.
  • Post offices.
  • Food delivery.
  • Bottle shops.
  • All those involved in frontline response.

Non-Essential Businesses:

  • Registered and licensed clubs.
  • Licensed premises in hotels and pubs.
  • Casinos.
  • Night clubs.
  • Cinemas and entertainment venues.
  • Auctions and open house inspections.
  • Personal services, such as beauty therapy, tanning salons, massage parlors (excluding physiotherapy), and tattoo parlors.
  • Outdoor and indoor markets.
  • Amusement parks and arcades.
  • Indoor and outdoor play centers.
  • Galleries and museums.
  • Libraries.
  • Swimming pools.
  • Gyms and indoor sports venues.
  • Overseas travel.
  • Some manufacturing.
  • Administration.

Restrictions on Food and Drink Businesses:

Business

Restriction

Cafes

Take away and home delivery services only. Cafes or canteens at hospitals, care homes, or schools as well as prison and military canteens may remain open. Services that provide food and drink to the homeless. Workplace canteens may only offer takeaway services.

Food courts

Delivery and takeaway services only.

Pubs and registered and licensed clubs

Only bottle shops attached to these venues may remain open.

Restricted Businesses:

  • Hairdressers and barbershops are restricted to 1 person per 4 square meters.
  • Boot camps and personal training are restricted to 10 people.
  • Restaurants, cafes, and food courts can only offer delivery and takeaway services.
  • Places of worship may conduct weddings restricted to 5 people.
  • Places of worship and funeral parlors may conduct funerals limited to 10 people, but exceptions can be made in special circumstances to be determined by each state and territory.
  • Visits to residential houses should be limited to very small numbers of people.
  • Concert venues, theatres, arenas, auditoriums, and stadiums can live stream performances by a small group if social distancing is observed.
  • Community and recreation centers may remain open for essential voluntary or public services only, such as food banks or homeless services.
  • Hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan and camping parks, and boarding houses will be restricted to permanent residents and workers or those who use them as interim abodes when their residence is not available.
  • Retail businesses may continue to operate "click and collect" services and delivery services with strict safety protocols.
  • Hardware stores may only do business with tradespeople.

Restrictions on Retail Businesses:

Business

Restriction

Real estate auctions and open houses.

Private appointments for inspections only.

Outdoor and indoor markets.

Food markets only, other types of markets will be determined by each state and territory.

Border Closures:

There are currently various border closures in place, including limited access to major cities, such as Victoria and Sydney.

Australia's States and Territories:

As of August 2021, following an increase in Covid-19 infections across Australia, major regional areas, suburbs, and cities have been placed under hard lockdown.

Each of Australia's states and territories has been given autonomy to set restrictions and bans on non-essential businesses. While there are some exceptions that differ by state or territory, these businesses have been asked to close for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Australia's Capital Territory Restrictions:

Business

Restriction

Real estate auctions, display homes, and open house inspections.

Maximum of 100 people, including staff and homeowners, with one person per four square meters. People should be discouraged from gathering in large groups.

Cafes, restaurants, and licensed venues.

One person per four square meters, with a maximum of 100 patrons, excluding staff. Mingling among groups and dancing is not permitted. Alcohol is restricted to seated patrons in groups of no more than ten. Live bands must be at least 1.5m distant from the patrons. All tables should be 1.5m apart. Self-serve buffets and communal snacks or condiments are not allowed.

Gyms, boot camps, and personal training.

One person per four square meters and a maximum of 100 people, staff included. Communal facilities (such as changerooms) must have a strict cleaning regime in place. Steam-based services, such as saunas, must remain closed.

Community sports and swimming pools.

One person per four square meters and a maximum of 100 people, including staff and spectators, per indoor or outdoor space. Strict cleaning regimes must be in place. All steam-based activities must remain closed.

Beauty therapy, hairdressers, nail salons, and tattoo, spa, and massage parlors.

One person per four square meters and a maximum of 100 people. All steam-based services must remain closed. All venues must have a COVID-19 safety plan.

Weddings, funerals, and places of worship.

Up to 100 people with one person per four square meters. Choirs and musicians are included in the 100-person limit.

Community and outdoor facilities and libraries.

One person per four square meters and a maximum of 100 people in each indoor or outdoor space. Recreational activities in national parks and reserves may continue with physical distancing. Certain parks and campgrounds are still closed due to ongoing bushfire recovery efforts.

Entertainment, live performances, and arts and cultural activities.

One person per four square meters and a maximum of 100 people. COVID-safe measures must be in place. Performers should remain at a distance of 1.5m from the audience. Tours must have a maximum of 20 people, excluding the guide, and may not run for longer than two hours.

Casino, gaming, and gambling venues.

Must remain closed until stage 3.

Adult venues.

Must remain closed until stage 3.

New South Wales Restrictions:

As of August 2021, there are several suburbs and regional areas in NSW, including its capital, Sydney, that are currently under hard lockdown following a surge in Covid-19 cases. Only essential businesses that are unable to operate from home are allowed to stay open.

Business

Restriction

Hospitality venues (clubs, cafes, restaurants, micro-breweries, casinos, cellar doors, small bars, and pubs).

Max 10 people per booking or group entering a premises. Alcohol may only be consumed by seated patrons. Only one person per square meter with a maximum of 300 people per venue or separate area is permitted.

Corporate events.

Only one person per four square meters with a maximum of 150 people is permitted.

Holiday homes and rentals.

Up to 20 people may stay in a holiday home or rental, but more are allowed if they are members of the same household.

Outdoor public gatherings.

No more than 20 people.

Community sports, gyms, fitness classes, and major recreation facilities.

A maximum of 20 people per class or gym. Community sporting activities may not exceed 500 people. Major recreation facilities may operate up to 25% capacity, or 10,000 people if each person is assigned a seating area.

Funerals and memorial services.

One person per four square meters with a maximum of 100 people. Crematoria, funeral homes, and places of worship must be registered as COVID Safe.

Places of worship and religious gatherings.

One person per four square meters with a maximum of 100 people. The maximum person limit includes places where men and women worship seperately. All places of worship must be registered as COVID Safe. Weddings are also subject to the 100-person limit.

Music festivals and nightclubs.

Currently closed.

Queensland Non-Essential Businesses:

Business

Restriction

Retail food services.

Limited to one person per two square meters for small areas and one person per four square meters for larger areas. No buffets.

Food courts.

Must operate in compliance with a COVID Safe Checklist.

Auctions, real estate auctions, and open house inspections.

Limited to one person per two square meters for small areas and one person per four square meters for larger areas. Must operate in compliance with a COVID Safe Checklist.

Beauty and personal care services.

Limited to one person per two square meters for small areas and one person per four square meters for larger areas. Must operate in compliance with a COVID Safe Checklist.

Non-therapeutic massage and water-based spa services.

Must have an approved COVID Safe Checklist.

Licensed venues and community centers.

Limited to one person per two square meters for small areas and one person per four square meters for larger areas. No buffets.

Drive-in cinemas.

People must remain in their cars as much as possible.

Casino, gaming, and gambling venues.

Must have an approved COVID Safe Checklist. Food and drink may be served to seated patrons. Limited to one person per two square meters for small areas and one person per four square meters for larger areas. No buffets.

Major sports facilities.

May operate up to 50% of their seated venue capacity with a maximum of 25,000 spectators.

Indoor and outdoor events.

Must comply with an approved COVID Safe Checklist. Events with more than 500 people must notify the local public health unit at least 10 days beforehand.

Theme parks, amusement parks, arcades, and indoor play areas.

Limited to one person per two square meters for small areas and one person per four square meters for larger areas. Must operate in compliance with a COVID Safe Checklist.

Boot camps and personal training, gyms, health clubs, fitness centers, yoga studios, spin facilities, and dance classes.

Limited to one person per two square meters for small areas and one person per four square meters for larger areas. Must operate in compliance with a COVID Safe Checklist.

Indoor sporting centers and venues and swimming pools.

Limited to one person per two square meters for small areas and one person per four square meters for larger areas, applicable to spectators but not to the teams playing on field. Must operate in compliance with a COVID Safe Checklist.

Hostels, B&Bs, backpackers, boarding houses, and short-term rentals.

Limited to one person per two square meters for small areas and one person per four square meters for larger areas. Must operate in compliance with a COVID Safe Checklist. Must collect contact information.

Caravan and camping grounds, zoos, aquariums, and wildlife centers.

Limited to one person per two square meters for small areas and one person per four square meters for larger areas. Must operate in compliance with a COVID Safe Checklist.

Galleries, museums, historic sites, and state and local government libraries.

Limited to one person per four square meters, regardless of the size of the venue.

Community facilities.

Limited to one person per two square meters for small areas and one person per four square meters for larger areas. Must operate in compliance with a COVID Safe Checklist.

Weddings and funerals.

Limited to a maximum of 100 people.

Universities and higher education institutions.

Limited to one person per four square meters.

Professional and elite sports.

No person limitations but must operate in compliance with a COVID Safe Checklist.

Nightclubs.

Limited to one person per two square meters for small areas and one person per four square meters for larger areas. May operate for seated patrons only. The dance floor must remain closed for physical distancing.

Adult entertainment venues.

May only operate in compliance with an approved COVID Safe Plan.

South Australia Restricted and Excluded Businesses:

All businesses may operate but must follow the density requirements of one person per two square meters with physical distancing of at least 1.5m. Businesses that conduct a defined public activity must operate according to a COVID-Safe Plan. These businesses may also be required to perform contact tracing.

Defined public activities are:

  • Onsite purchase and consumption of food and beverages.
  • Sport, fitness, or recreation activities.
  • Indoor public meetings.
  • Ceremonies.
  • Personal care services.
  • Public entertainment.
  • Recreational transport.
  • Nightclub operations.
  • Operation of licensed premises.
  • Operation of casinos or gaming areas.
  • Auctions and open house inspections.
  • Driver instruction.

Business restrictions are as follows:

  • No shared utensils in the provision of food and beverage services.
  • No communal food and beverage service areas, including buffets, salad bars, or water dispensers.
  • No re-usable equipment, such as pipes, tubes, or equipment associated with shisha, smoking, or vaping.

Businesses excluded from the Direction on public activities include:

  • Airports.
  • Public transport.
  • Medical and health services.
  • Emergency services.
  • Disability, aged care, or residential facilities.
  • Prisons, correctional facilities, or training centers.
  • Courts and tribunals.
  • Parliament and Government House.
  • Council meetings.
  • Food markets, supermarkets, grocery stores, retail stores, and shopping centers.
  • Workplaces, including offices, factories, warehouses, workshops, laboratories, mining or construction sites, and waste disposal.
  • Primary produce treatment or production lands or vessels.
  • Educational institutions and childcare facilities.
  • Accommodation facilities.
  • Transiting areas, such as Rundle Mall.
  • Gatherings deemed exempt by the State Coordinator.

Tasmania's Business Restrictions:

All businesses in Tasmania are allowed to operate as long as they meet the minimum COVID-19 safety standards and adhere to an approved COVID-Safe Plan.

A maximum density limit of one person per two square meters, up to a maximum of 250 people in an undivided space indoors and 500 people in an undivided space outdoors, is now in force. The maximum density limit also includes staff, personnel, and trainers.

For venues with multiple indoor or outdoor spaces, the maximum density limit applies separately to each undivided space. For places where alcohol is sold, patrons must be seated and all activities that are not seated, such as pool or dancing, are not permitted.

The following businesses are excluded from the maximum density limit:

  • Airports and public or commercial transport areas.
  • Medical and health services, including veterinary services.
  • Disability and aged care facilities.
  • Prisons, correctional facilities, and youth justice centers.
  • Courts and tribunals.
  • Parliament.
  • Educational institutions, childcare facilities, and child and family centers.
  • Businesses that deliver support and services to disadvantaged community members.
  • Indoor and outdoor transit spaces.
  • Emergency services.

Western Australia's Restrictions:

All businesses may now operate as long as they adhere to the maximum density limit of one person per two square meters. This density limit will only include staff in venues that can hold more than 500 people.

Food and beverage venues are no longer required to restrict their service to seated patrons and alcohol can be served to non-seated patrons. Major sport and entertainment venues are still restricted to operating at 50% seating capacity.

All Western Australian businesses will be expected to adhere to their approved COVID-Safety Plans, which they must continuously update.

COVID-19 Resources for Australia:

What is an Essential Worker in Australia?

Classifying 'essential workers' and their responsibilities.

FAQs:

What is an essential business in Australia?

Those businesses that provide a service or product that is necessary for the health and well-being of the public are considered to be essential businesses. The Australian government has released guidelines for business closures that individual states and territories can adjust as needed.

Can my business remain open if it is considered non-essential?

The majority of non-essential businesses have been banned or restricted. Exceptions mostly relate to takeaway or delivery food services or those businesses that can provide an essential voluntary or public service.

Can I get government support if my business is forced to close?

Yes. The Australian government has released several measures to support Australian businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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