COVID-19 business restrictions across Australia


30th June, 2021

COVID-19 business restrictions: Nationwide border closures, face masks and lockdowns

The possibility of spreading the Delta strain nationwide has triggered a series of COVID-19 restrictions once again impacting Australia’s business community in a wide variety of ways, writes Nina Hendy.Much of the country is on alert as chief health officers and state governments warn of the potential for Australians to further spread the Delta strain of COVID-19 among our population.

In certain regions, shopping has been limited to essential goods such as supermarkets, pharmacies, hardware and petrol for some states, while mask-wearing is also making a big appearance.

The wide variety of restrictions, and the speed at which they’re being updated, means small businesses owners have little option to keep an eye on the news cycle at all times.

The following article is designed to answer commonly asked questions regarding COVID-19 restrictions to normal trade on a state-by-state basis, with some links to business support where relevant.

COVID-19 related workplace restrictions and more, state by state

New South Wales: 2-week lockdown, cases may rise

Current stay at home orders will be extended across all of greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong until 11.59pm on Friday, 9 July. The state recorded 19 new cases overnight

Are masks required to be worn in these areas of NSW?

Yes, masks are required to be worn on public transport, in shops and wherever physical distancing isn’t possible outdoors.

How will this lockdown impact businesses?

In just one industry example, the Sydney lockdown is estimated to cost retailers upwards of $2 billion, according to the National Retail Association.

Is there business support available for impacted businesses in NSW?

Support payments can be accessed from July 19, which will include grants of between $5,000 and $10,000, as well as an extension to the state’s Dine & Discover vouchers to support hospitality providers.

Just in: A grants package for businesses affected by the lockdown have been announced, to be split into two streams to cover small businesses and tourism providers, offering between $5,000 and $10,000 per eligible business.

Businesses will be able to apply for the grants through Service NSW later in July, when they will need to show a decline in turnover across a minimum two-week period after restrictions commence on 26 June.

Victoria: All-clear (for now)

For once, Victoria is enjoying a period of normality, with restrictions now eased. The state recorded zero cases in the past 24 hours, and currently has 44 active, known cases.

So, there’s no business support specific to Victorian businesses?

Businesses have been doing it tough for more than a year now, as lockdowns are enforced, extended and then eased, but there are no support packages available for Victorian small businesses beyond national initiatives like the SME Loan Recovery Scheme, or general initiatives like the Small Business Digital Adaptation Program.

Further information on Victorian grants can be found here.

Queensland: Lockdown of major population centres

Queensland will enter lockdown from 6pm on Tuesday after two new cases were recorded, including a woman who had been infectious in the community for 10 days, which wasn’t taken in good humour by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

When will the lockdown end?

The stay at home orders are in place until 6pm on Friday, and extend throughout Noosa, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Townsville City and other parts of the state. Read more here.

Do I have to wear a mask in these areas?

Yes. If you do leave home for the permitted reasons, you need to wear a face mask.

What business support exists for impacted operators in Queensland?

Businesses impacted by the stay at home orders may be eligible for financial assistance or other types of relief. Call the Small Business Hotline on 1300 654 687 or visit the website to find out more.

Northern Territory: Greater Darwin in lockdown

The Greater Darwin areas has been plunged into lockdown until 1pm on Friday, 2 July. This includes the Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield Council areas, and Wagait and Belyuen Shires.

The lockdown follows two more cases and a string of new exposure sites being announced, bringing the NT to 10 active cases.

What business support exists for NT operators?

The Territory Business Lockdown payment has been announced to provide immediate financial support to businesses during lockdown period. This payment of $1,000 is available to those eligible. You will need to submit a simple online application here.

South Australia: Masks in certain settings

Cases numbers might be low, [NH8] but for the next week, South Australians will be required to wear masks in aged care homes, hospitals, personal care settings and indoor entertainment venues. Masks[NH9] will also be strongly recommended on public transport.

Are gyms open in Adelaide?

Yes they are, but there are limits on attendance and you’ll need to regularly check these as the situation progresses.

Restrictions are also in place on licensed venues, public events, gyms, home gatherings, weddings, funeral and singing. And dancing is banned in nightclubs and licensed premises. These restrictions are being reviewed on a daily basis.

What support exists for SA-based businesses?

The South Australian Government established the Businesses and Jobs Support Fund, and the Community and Jobs Support Fund. Queries can be made here.

Western Australia: 4-day lockdown for Perth and Peel

Perth and Peel are currently in a minimum 4-day lockdown until Saturday, 3 July, with daily case counts being watched closely in the event that the lockdown needs to be extended. WA is currently declared a State of Emergency.

Do I have to wear a mask indoors?

Yes. Masks are mandatory for indoors, public transport, outdoor public areas where physical distancing is not possible, while there’s a limit of 30 people allowed in homes.

What assistance is there for WA businesses?

The Small Business Lockdown Assistance Grants program will provide assistance of $2,000 to SMEs in the region operating in industry sectors most severely impacted by the lockdowns and restrictions. For more information, click here.

ACT and Tasmania: No state-based restrictions

The Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania currently have no active cases and no restrictions in place beyond mask wearing in certain settings for the ACT. Be sure to check state guidelines on a daily basis.

What about mask wearing in Tasmania?

No enforceable guidelines around masks have been introduced in Tasmania as yet, but Premier Peter Gutwein is currently contemplating the introduction of masks for indoor events, and says new cases are likely.

What support exists for businesses in these places?

Currently, there’s no targeted, state-based relief as it’s assumed impacts to business are minor to none. However, national programs such as the SME Loan Recovery Scheme are available, and more information on that program can be found here.