11 November 2021

It's finally freedom day, so what can I do now?

| Lottie Twyford
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Hot air balloons over Australian Parliament House

We did it, Canberra! Freedom day is here. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

For what we hope is the last time for a long time, the public health rules in Canberra changed at 11:59 pm last night (11 November), unlocking a whole array of freedoms for Canberrans to enjoy.

The masks are off, dancing is back and life is very much on the way back to normal. Although it seems someone forgot to tell the weather that.

As Chief Minister Andrew Barr put it so succinctly on Tuesday afternoon – it’s time to cue the “moves like Jagger” across dancefloors and nightclubs Territory-wide.

Here’s what’s changed overnight, Canberra.

Do I have to wear a mask anymore?

Not very often, no. Masks are now only mandatory in certain ‘high-risk’ settings but are still very much encouraged by health authorities. This includes when entering hospitals, aged care facilities, and riding on public transport or using taxis/rideshare vehicles.

Indoor front-of-house staff at hospitality venues also need to wear them when working, and the mask rules at schools haven’t changed either.

Can I go dancing?

Yes. Although only if you have moves like Jagger (Andrew Barr said so).

Dancing is permitted, and so is “vertical consumption” (as NSW describes eating and drinking while standing up).

The new rules for licensed venues, cafes, restaurants, casinos, food courts and clubs mean all venues are allowed up to 25 people before density limits apply.

From there, it’s one person per two square metres inside. There are no density limits on outdoor spaces.

Canberra centre

Luckily, the shops will increase capacity limits just in time for Christmas shopping (joy). Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

What are the rules for shopping?

Very similar to the above. There’s a one person per two square metres rule in place.

The same rules apply to hairdressers, beauticians, tattoo parlours and other personal services.

So, are the capacity rules the same everywhere?

Yeah. Pretty much all indoor venues are governed by these ‘new normal’ rules. Up to 25 people indoors and then one person per two square metres after that.

Best to check the COVID-19 website for specifics, though.

Weddings, funerals and places of worship come under these density limits, although choirs are encouraged to maintain physical distancing from the congregation when singing.

Indoor gyms, dance studios, organised sporting activities and pools are also covered by this rule, and density rules limit class sizes.

Also covered are libraries, indoor entertainment facilities, community centres and attractions, the zoo, musical rehearsals … you get the gist, pretty much everywhere.

READ ALSO Nearly a million square metres of ACT roads to be repaired with new recycled material this summer

Can I have a huge party?

Sure, if you have lots of friends.

There are no more limits on the number of visitors to a home nor on outdoor informal gatherings.

If by ‘throw a huge party’ you mean you want to have an organised event such as a festival, you will need a COVID-safe plan, and the bigger your event gets, the more work you will have to do with ACT Health.

Do I have to keep checking in?


Single traveller at Canberra Airport.

It won’t be long until airports are bustling again. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Can I go on holiday?

Yep. But as has been oft-repeated throughout the pandemic and particularly throughout the last few weeks, it’s your responsibility to follow the rules set out by the ACT and the jurisdiction you want to travel to.

Different rules are in place for vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers who enter the ACT from ‘high-risk’ geographical areas.

It’s also your responsibility to check where these are and keep up with changes.

What about overseas?

Yep. Again, check the rules. If you’re fully vaccinated you no longer have to quarantine upon arrival to the ACT, but testing requirements apply.

And if I have to go to work instead, should I go back to the office?

That’s up to you and your employer.

screenshot of check in cbr app

It’s a simple process to add the vaccine certificate to your Check In CBR app. Image: Screenshot.

Cool last question then – do I need to prove I’m vaccinated in the ACT?

Not officially. The ACT’s policy has not been to differentiate between unvaccinated and vaccinated people when it comes to reopening (travel rules seem to be the only exception).

In different jurisdictions, however, you will be required to prove your vaccination status and there are some businesses in the ACT allegedly requiring it.

Luckily, you can now import your vaccination certificate into the Check In CBR app to do so.

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