Sydney’s lockdown has been extended to at least 28 August with a raft of changes to restrictions announced and the ACT plunged into a seven-day lockdown from 12 August.
Three more local government areas in NSW have been added to a hard lockdown, which now includes an outdoor mask mandate and a 5km radius travel limit, as cases continue to increase in Sydney’s west and south-west. The stricter rules now cover 11 LGAs: Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown, Liverpool, Cumberland, Blacktown, Parramatta, Georges River and Campbelltown, Bayside, Strathfield and Burwood.
Another 12 suburbs around Penrith are under hard lockdown. They are Caddens, Claremont Meadows, Colyton, Erskine Park, Kemps Creek, Kingswood, Mount Vernon, North St Marys, Orchard Hills, Oxley Park, St Clair, and St Marys.
Outside those 11 LGAs, some construction work has resumed after a two-week ban.
As cases spread across the state, several regional areas are also in lockdown, including the Hunter region, Northern Rivers, including Byron Bay, and Tamworth and Armidale. On Wednesday, a week-long lockdown was announced for Dubbo.
The regional local government areas of Bogan, Bourke, Brewarrina, Coonamble, Gilgandra, Narromine, Walgett and Warren entered a week-long lockdown from 7pm Wednesday 11 August to at least 19 August.
Here are the current Covid restrictions in place in New South Wales and ACT.
When can you leave home?
There is no change to the four essential reasons people are allowed to leave home:
Shopping for food or other essential goods and services. You must shop within 10kms of home. Browsing in shops is prohibited, and only one person per household, per day may leave the home for shopping.
Medical care or compassionate needs, including getting a Covid-19 vaccine
Exercise outdoors in groups of two, who cannot travel further than 10km from their home or local government area.
Essential work, or education, where you cannot work or study from home
See here for the full list of reasonable excuses to leave your home in NSW.
In the ACT the reasons to leave home are:
To shop for essentials like groceries and medicine and supplies that are essential for personal needs or for vulnerable people.
To obtain essential health care, including to undertake a Covid-19 test or receive scheduled vaccination.
To exercise outdoors for no more than one hour per day, with one other person, or your household group.
To provide essential caregiving services.
To undertake essential work.
Further details for the ACT are available here.
What about if I live in south-western or western Sydney?
There are stricter rules for 11 LGAs: Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown, Liverpool, Cumberland, Blacktown, Parramatta, Georges River and Campbelltown, Bayside, Strathfield and Burwood.
Suburbs around Penrith have also been added to the hard lockdown. The 12 suburbs are Caddens, Claremont Meadows, Colyton, Erskine Park, Kemps Creek, Kingswood, Mount Vernon, North St Marys, Orchard Hills, Oxley Park, St Clair, and St Marys.
Masks must be worn outdoors in these LGAs and residents must stay within 5km of home.
Residents in those LGAs cannot leave the area for work unless they are authorised workers (including healthcare, retail, manufacturing, some types of transport, etc).
However, the government has eased testing requirements for workers that do have to leave the area. In Fairfield, Liverpool, Cumberland, Blacktown, Parramatta, Georges River and Campbelltown, only aged care and health care workers will need to get a Covid-19 test every three days. In Canterbury-Bankstown all authorised workers who leave the area must continue to get a test every three days.
What areas of regional NSW are in lockdown?
On 9 August, a one-week lockdown was introduced for residents in the Byron Bay region, including the Byron Shire, Richmond Valley, Lismore and Ballina local government areas.
The Hunter and upper Hunter region is also in lockdown. The local government areas impacted are Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Port Stephens, Cessnock, Dungog, Singleton and Muswellbrook. It was due to lift on Thursday 12 August, but has been extended for another week.
There is also a one-week lockdown in place on the Armidale and Tamworth local government areas. As of 5pm on 9 August stay-at-home rules will apply and are due to lift on Sunday 15 August.
On Wednesday 11 August, the NSW government announced Dubbo would enter a one-week lockdown from 1pm after two cases were recorded there.
The regional local government areas of Bogan, Bourke, Brewarrina, Coonamble, Gilgandra, Narromine, Walgett and Warren also entered a week-long lockdown from 7pm Wednesday 11 August.
The rules for these areas are the same as those already in place across greater Sydney, including the Central Coast and Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Port Stephens, Singleton, Dungog, Muswellbrook and Cessnock.
What if I live outside the ACT but travel across the border for work?
The ACT has declared all of NSW as a Covid-19 hotspot. Residents who lived across the border in one of the following approved postcodes may enter the ACT for essential work and healthcare reasons without an exemption:
2581 Gunning, Collector
2582 Murrumbateman, Yass
2618 Wallaroo, areas along the ACT’s north-western edge
2620 Queanbeyan, Googong, Karabar, Sutton, Gundaroo
2623 Captains Flat
2626 Bredbo and Michelago
If you live outside these postcodes you will be required to seek an exemption.
If you live in the ACT but travel into NSW for work, you are expected to follow the rules of the ACT lockdown even when in NSW. You will also have to complete a new declaration form every 72 hours.
How does the NSW single bubble work?
Single bubbles have been introduced for the first time in greater Sydney. People who live alone can nominate one person, a friend or family member, who will be allowed to visit, but it must be the same person for the whole of lockdown. They also cannot be from one of the eight LGAs in hard lockdown.
For single residents in the eight LGAs subject to a hard lockdown, the person they nominate to join their bubble must live within 5kms of their home.
Can I exercise?
Outdoor exercise is limited to two people. However, members of the same household gathering outdoors for exercise will be allowed to do so in groups larger than two.
People must stay in their local government area or within 10km of home for exercise and outdoor recreation, however, under new rules announced on 29 July residents in the eight hotspot LGAs in Sydney’s south-west must stay within 5km of home for exercise.
The NSW restrictions state that no community sport in greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour should proceed.
In the ACT, you can exercise outdoors for no more than one hour per day, with one other person, or your household group. Gyms are closed and personal training is not permitted inside or outside.
What businesses can open in lockdown?
All retail premises in greater Sydney will be required to close (“click and collect”, takeaway and home delivery can still operate), except for the following:
Supermarkets and grocery stores (including butchers, bakeries, fruit and vegetable stores, liquor stores and fishmongers);
From 21 July employers must allow employees to work from home if the employee is able to do so, failure to do so can result in a fine of up to $10,000.
See here for a full list of which businesses are open and closed.
Business restrictions for the ACT can be found here
What about construction?
Construction work will be able to resume at “non-occupied sites” outside the 11 hotspot LGAs in NSW. Construction sites must have Covid safety plans.
Tradespeople will also be allowed to attend homes outside the eight hotspot LGAs as long as the work can be carried out without contact with the residents.
Construction work in the ACT can continue as usual, but mask rules apply, full details can be found here.
Are schools open?
Year 12 students in greater Sydney will resume face-to-face learning on 16 August. All other year levels will continue remote learning.
The same rules apply in the ACT.
Can weddings go ahead?
People are not allowed to attend or hold a wedding in greater Sydney or locked down regional areas.
Weddings are allowed in the ACT but with no more than five attendees (including the two persons being married, celebrant and two witnesses).
What about funerals?
Currently, funerals can continue to take place, including in the locked-down areas, with a maximum of 10 people, including the person conducting the service. Attending a funeral is a reasonable excuse to leave home.
In the ACT, the limit is 10 people not including people necessary to conduct the funeral.
Can I have visitors to my house?
If you are in greater Sydney, you cannot have visitors to your house and you must comply with the stay-at-home rules. If you want to visit another person you will need a reasonable excuse to be away from your place of residence. A visitor does not include a person at the place of residence who is there:
For work or attend a university or other tertiary education facility
As a carer (only one visitor can enter another residence to fulfil carers’ responsibilities or provide care or assistance, or for compassionate reasons).
To give effect to arrangements between parents and children under 18 or their siblings
To assist a person to move places of residence
To avoid an injury or serious risk of harm
Because of an emergency
To view or inspect property to lease or purchase it
In the ACT, no more than two people are permitted to visit another household, but only for the approved reasons outlined above under stay at home or for compassionate purposes.
Intimate partner visits are allowed. People who live alone can identify one other household that they can visit or receive visits from.
What are the restrictions at hospitality and entertainment venues?
In greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and other locked down areas of NSW food businesses can open for takeaway only. Entertainment facilities, such as theatres, cinemas, music halls, concert halls and dance halls and amusement centres, such as places to play billiards, pool, pinball machines or video games are all closed.
Outside of those areas, the one person per 4 sq metre rule has been re-introduced for all indoor and outdoor settings, including weddings and funerals.
Drinking while standing at indoor venues is also not allowed and outdoor seated events are limited to only 50% seated capacity.
Singing by audiences at indoor shows or by congregants at indoor places of worship is also banned, and dancing is not allowed at indoor hospitality venues or nightclubs. However, dancing is allowed at weddings for the bridal party only (no more than 20 people).
Can I travel interstate?
People in greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Wollongong cannot travel.
People in the ACT can only travel if they meet another jurisdiction’s travel requirements prior to entering.
Anyone who has been in the ACT in the past 14 days and is now in NSW is expected to follow the rules of the ACT lockdown for the duration of that lockdown – and also comply with any NSW lockdown rules, if they are in a locked down area.
Anyone who has been in the ACT in the past 14 days and travels to NSW must complete a declaration form. For people who travel frequently between jurisdictions, a new declaration form is required every 72 hours.
People outside of greater Sydney also cannot enter greater Sydney for the purposes of exercise or outdoor recreation. People can only enter greater Sydney for a funeral or memorial service, or for obtaining goods or services if those goods or services are not reasonably available outside of greater Sydney.
A person over 18 who is leaving greater Sydney must also carry evidence showing their address and produce it to a police officer on request.
Other states and territories have closed their borders to parts of NSW and the ACT. Each state and territory is updating guidance on travel rules individually:
What about public gatherings?
Outdoor public gatherings are limited in greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Wollongong and other areas in lockdown to two people. In these areas, you must not participate in an outdoor public gathering unless you are:
Working or attending a university or other tertiary education facility
Providing care or assistance to vulnerable persons
Gathering with your household
Gathering for a funeral
Providing emergency assistance to a person
Fulfilling a legal obligation
Moving home or moving your business to a new premises
See here for a list of exemptions to these rules.
Rules for the ACT are similar but check for detail.
Outside of the areas in lockdown, up to 200 people can gather in an outdoor public place such as a park, reserve, beach, garden or public space.
Outdoor seated events are limited to 50% seated capacity.
What are the rules around masks?
In the 11 hotspot LGAs in Sydney’s south-west and west, people must wear a mask outdoors, as well as indoor areas aside from their own home.
For the rest of NSW, it is a requirement to wear a face mask in all indoor areas of non-residential premises.
As well as wearing a face mask in all indoor areas, you must also wear a face mask:
At organised outdoor gatherings
If you are on public transport
In all indoor construction sites
In a major recreation facility such as a stadium or
If you are working in a hospitality venue
Anyone who leaves the home must have a mask with them at all times. They must be worn when you are working outdoors, in outdoor markets, outdoor shopping strips, and in an outdoor queues waiting for products such as coffee and food.
In the ACT, face masks must be worn at all times upon leaving home, including in workplaces, and by all people aged 12 and above.
What other restrictions are in place for regional NSW?
As well as the new mask mandate, the following restrictions remain in place across NSW (other than those in lockdown):
Dance and gym classes limited to 20 per class (masks must be worn).
Previous public transport capacity limits, represented by green dots, will be reintroduced.
Nightclubs must still be Covid safe, while weddings, funerals and memorial services must have and comply with a Covid-19 safety plan.
When a religious service is held in a place of public worship, the premises must have and comply with a Covid-19 Safety Plan for a place of worship.
See the full list of what you can do in NSW at the NSW Health website
Due to the unprecedented and ongoing nature of the coronavirus outbreak, this article is being regularly updated to ensure that it reflects the current situation at the date of publication. Any significant corrections made to this or previous versions of the article will be footnoted in line with Guardian editorial policy.