With the COVID-19 infection rate curve flattening, the federal government announced a three-stage plan to re-open Australia – big news for small businesses after weeks of lockdown and a loss of customers and income.
The new rules
We’ll run you through what the federal government has announced in stage one and what it means for small businesses. While the rules cover a variety of areas, including recreational activities and religious services, we’ll focus on the impact to your small business.
State and territory authorities will have the final say on when the relaxation of the rules come into effect, so you’ll need to stay abreast of exactly what the rules are and when they happen. The easiest way to do that is via the links shared below.
You can see the full breakdown of what has been planned in stages two and three here.
Check back to learn how stages two and three are being rolled out across the states in coming weeks.
Stage one: easy does it, says the federal government
The good news for small businesses is that some categories of businesses will be allowed to re-open under this first stage, allowing you to start bringing in some much-needed revenue and getting some staff back to work.
The majority of businesses set to benefit during this first stage are shops, restaurants and cafes.
But it’s worth bearing in mind that this stage is primarily about giving us all a chance to re-connect with friends and loved ones, increasing the number of people who can gather in one place.
A quick rule of thumb is that stage one permits up to 10 people to gather in one place – while respecting social distancing norms – except in weddings and funerals, where slightly more people are allowed.
- Retail stores and shopping centres can re-open, as long as they do so in a COVIDSafe way.
- Cafes and restaurants may open and seat up to 10 patrons at a time.
- Large entertainment venues must remain closed but they can offset some costs by opening restaurants or cafes and seating up to ten people at once.
- Caravan parks and camping grounds remain closed to tourists while hostels and hotels are open.
- Hairdressers and barber shops will remain open and must record contact details.
- Beauty therapy, massage therapy venues, saunas and tattoo parlours remain closed.
- Real estate auctions and open homes can now get underway, with up to ten people.
- Weddings may have up to ten people in addition to the couple and the celebrant.
- Funerals may have up to 20 people indoors and 30 outdoors.
- Indoor gyms must remain closed but outdoor gyms and bootcamps can open with up to 10 people at a time.
- Regional travel is allowed in some States.
Note – not all states have implemented the federal government’s stage one rules to date.
See how your state has applied the rules:
- Cafes, restaurants and retailers will be able to have 10 patrons inside at a time, provided each patron has 4 square metres of space. This includes restaurants inside pubs.
- Weddings will be allowed to double in size from five attendees to 10, while 20 people will be allowed to attend funerals held indoors and 30 if the funeral is held outdoors.
- Outdoor bootcamps can go ahead with up to ten people.
Looking ahead: From June 1, pubs can seat up to 50 patrons. All customers must be seated, pre-bookings must be limited to ten people per party and the four square metre density rule will apply. Travel within the state will also be permitted from this date.
- From May 16th, Queenslanders are allowed to shop for non-essential items, with retailers able to accept up to 10 patrons into bricks-and-mortar locations.
- Beauty salons will reopen.
- Pubs and cafes in regional or rural areas with no cases will be able to seat up to 20 people.
- Open homes will be allowed.
- Weddings will be allowed ten guests, and funerals 20 guests indoors and 30 outdoors.
- The recreational travel limit will also be extended to 150 kilometres from your home.
Looking ahead: The Premier has announced it intends to move to the second stage on 12 June and the third stage on 10 July.
The second stage of relaxing restrictions will see gatherings of up to 20 people; indoor cinemas, entertainment venues and amusement parks reopening; and greater recreational travel distances allowed.
- Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has been the most conservative. Victorians are currently only allowed to leave their homes for work or education, shopping for essential supplies, exercise and medical and compassionate care. Changes brought in on 12 May added another reason to this list – visiting family and friends.
- Cafes and restaurants remain restricted to takeaway service only.
- Some shops are open within centres, but shoppers are urged to only go for necessary goods and spend as little time there as possible. Retail shops must measure its available floorspace and identify the maximum number of customers allowed inside.
- Victorians are still being urged to work from home if they can.
Looking ahead: Cafes and restaurants could reopen in June after three weeks of a major COVID-19 testing blitz. The government is considering reopening the eating-only areas of pubs.
- From Monday, 18 May, indoor gatherings can double in size from 10 people to 20.
- Cafes and restaurants could have up to 20 patrons, provided they follow the 4 square metre rule. Alcoholic drinks can be served with meals only.
- Retailers are encouraged to reopen in accordance with the 20-person, 4-square-metre rules.
- Businesses covered include dine-in services in pubs, clubs, and casinos.
- Indoor weddings or funerals in WA will be able to have up to 20 attendees, increasing to 30 if they’re held outdoors.
- Fitness classes are capped at 20 people, indoor or outdoor. Only those with minimal shared equipment such as yoga or dance (no spin classes).
Looking ahead: Further easing of rules on cafes, weddings, funerals, restaurants, regional travel, pubs, playgrounds and outdoor gym equipment, skate parks, beauty salons, cinemas, gyms, indoor sports, health clubs, real estate auctions, zoos, galleries, museums and concert venues expected in mid-June.
- As of May 22, indoor and outdoor dining will be allowed at cafes and restaurants, with up to 20 patrons – half seated indoors and half outdoors. Alcohol can be served with a meal.
- Regional travel is being encouraged and campgrounds and caravan parks were re-opened.
Looking ahead: More restrictions are to be relaxed on 5 June. The plan is to open cinemas, gyms, galleries and museums, driving lessons and beauty parlours, with maximum gathering numbers increased to 20.
- An easing of restrictions will begin on Monday 18 May, with cafes, restaurants and retailers able to serve up to 10 people at a time, including restaurants in pubs, hotels and RSLs.
- Beauty services allowed to open with limits on patron numbers.
- Gatherings of up to ten at weddings are allowed.
- Since 1 May 2020, the ACT Government is allowing Canberrans to leave their home for non-essential shopping purposes, such as retail shopping.Retailers are encouraged to open, however are not obliged to open under the easing of restrictions.
- Pubs, cafes and restaurant may only serve takeaway.
- Boot camps and outdoor physical training can have 10 people attend at a safe distance, but fitness equipment cannot be shared.
Looking ahead: The Chief Minister said an announcement on pubs, restaurants and cafes will be made in the coming weeks.
- From 15 May some indoor activities will also be allowed, if they take less than two hours.
- This includes going to the gym, eating at a cafe or restaurant, visiting a museum or undergoing non-facial cosmetic procedures like manicures or tanning.
- Bars can reopen but alcohol can only be served with a meal.
Looking ahead: From 5 June all businesses will be allowed to reopen if they have a Covid-19 plan. The two-hour limit will be lifted allowing night clubs, cinemas, tattoo parlours casinos and pokies to reopen. However, physical distancing must still be observed.
Premiers have warned that spikes in infection rates could lead to restrictions being reapplied, with further economic consequences for small businesses likely.
As NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said: “Without a vaccine we need to be vigilant, especially when restrictions lift. There will inevitably be more cases, so social distancing will become even more crucial.”
The health advice on how to prevent the spread of germs in our community is clear – maintain good hand hygiene, practice social distancing, and if employees are unwell, they should stay home.
Following the government’s guidelines on running a COVIDSafe business environment will help to minimise the chance of further restrictions being imposed. These include:
- Only accepting tap payments.
- Using tape to mark 1.5 metre distances on the floor of their venue to encourage customers to follow social distancing guidelines.
- Telling workers to stay home if they feel ill.
- Making it easy for workers and customers to maintain hand hygiene inside your business.
- Encouraging employees to download the COVIDSafe app.
- Limiting the number of people allowed to stand inside a small space.
- Where possible, working from home is still encouraged.
For more details and guidance, check the government’s Roadmap to a COVIDSafe Australia and run through this online planning tool. Check back to learn how stages two and three are being rolled out across the states in coming weeks.