29 September 2021

Lockdown rules are changing: what does that mean for you?

| Lottie Twyford
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Man wearing mask and walking through Canberra Centre.

An almost deserted Canberra Centre during the first week of lockdown. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr this week announced the ACT’s much-anticipated roadmap for the weeks ahead as lockdown comes to an end and public health restrictions begin to ease.

Here’s all the information you need to know about what and when restrictions will change.

Keep in mind that authorities have put either caveats or asterisks on these dates (depending on whether you’re talking to the Chief Minister or the Health Minister), so they are all subject to the public health situation not deteriorating between now and then.

Friday, 1 October

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has described this weekend’s easing of restrictions as minimal. Working from home arrangements will remain in place for most businesses and employees. From 12:01 am on Friday:

  • A maximum of two people can visit another household;
  • Outdoor recreation time is doubled to four hours, five people or one household limit remains;
  • All non-essential retail can operate click and deliver or click and collect with a maximum of five staff or one person per four square metres;
  • Outdoor boot camps and personal training can recommence with no more than two people (excluding instructors);
  • Outdoor and contactless coaching can recommence with no more than two people (excluding the coach);
  • Nature reserves and National Parks to reopen;
  • All dental services allowed.

READ ALSO Barr flags extension of business support program, hits back at criticism he doesn’t understand industry concerns

Tuesday, 5 October

From Tuesday, 5 October, Year 12 students can return to on-campus learning for practical classes and key exams and assessments. Year 11 students who have essential assessments that cannot be completed remotely or wait until 18 October can also attend campus.

Other students whose parents must return to work can also attend campus, the Chief Minister has confirmed.

group fitness class at Club Lime

Hairdressers and gyms will be able to re-open on 15 October (excluding classes) and subject to density requirements. Photo: Viva Leisure.

Friday, 15 October

The Territory’s hard lockdown will end at 11:59 pm on Thursday, 14 October, thereby triggering a transition to “medium” public health restrictions.

Modelling suggests the ACT will have 80 per cent full vaccination by this date and the nation will have reached 70 per cent.

From Friday morning:

  • a maximum of five people can visit another household;
  • 25 people can gather outdoors;
  • All non-essential retail can operate a click and collect or click and deliver and small businesses can also operate by contactless means – max of 10 staff allowed or one per four square metres;
  • Hairdressers, beauty and personal services can open;
  • Accommodation, campgrounds, caravan parks and campsites can open;
  • Swimming pools are open for lessons only;
  • Gradual return to the workplace where it suits you and your employer;
  • Funerals with 50 person limit.

Strict density and capacity requirements will be in place for the following venues. The following services will be able to resume with a maximum of 25 people or one person per four square metres (whichever is less):

  • Gyms (excluding classes) and organised outdoor training;
  • Weddings;
  • Outdoor play centres or amusement centres;
  • Places of worship;
  • Outdoor auctions;
  • Gaming and gambling venues;
  • Outdoor tours;
  • Community centres or facilities;
  • Licensed venues, cafes and restaurants for seated service. Businesses can also have a maximum of 50 people or one per four square metres if operating outdoors.

The Chief Minister has said that at this stage, it’s preferable that most people do continue to work from home, if they can.

Monday, 18 October

All Year 11 and 12 students can return to school for on-campus learning.

Monday, 25 October

Early childhood centres reopen for all children, and pre-school to Year Two children return to school alongside Years Six, Nine and 10.

READ ALSO Probing the polls: lockdown decisions and Canberra’s fading railway station

Friday, 29 October

This date signals potentially the biggest easing of restrictions for the ACT. It’s hoped the Territory’s surrounding region will have hit the 80 per cent double dose vaccination rates by this date.

From the Friday;

  • Maximum of 10 visitors to the home;
  • 30 people can gather outdoors;
  • Cinemas, galleries, museums and cultural institutions open with restrictions;
  • Ticketed and seated events to go ahead with strict capacity limits;
  • All retail can open with one person per four square metres.

For the following activities and businesses, organisers will be given a choice regarding density limits

There can be one person per four square metres for indoor settings — with a maximum of 100 people or one person per two square metres in outdoor settings — to a maximum of 150 people.

Smaller businesses will still have the choice to have a maximum of 25 people instead of adhering to square-metre density limits.

These settings include:

  • Licensed venues, cafes and restaurants;
  • Gyms (classes still limited to 20 people);
  • Organised sport and swimming pools;
  • Play centres or amusement centres;
  • Places of worship;
  • Real estate services and auctions;
  • Gaming and gambling venues;
  • Outdoor attractions;
  • Weddings;
  • Funerals;
  • Community centres or facilities.
Children home-schooling

Getting back into the classroom will no doubt be a relief to parents and children. Photo: Jessica Lewis.

Monday, 1 November

All remaining students can return to on-campus learning, so that’s Years Three, Four, Five, Seven and Eight. These students can also attend their usual out of school hours care programs.

READ ALSO Canberra businesses share some love (and chocolate) with families at Ronald McDonald House

Moving forwards

The government’s pathway after 29 October is dependent on the epidemiological situation at the time.

However, it’s likely the following sorts of restrictions will be lifted:

  • Larger events and gatherings allowed with limits;
  • Reduced density requirements;
  • Reopening of foodcourts and nightclubs;
  • Return to face-to-face learning for higher education.
Yass road sign

There will be different rules over the border, but interstate travel remains off the cards for now. Photo: Genevieve Jacobs.

What about over the border?

The ACT Government and Chief Minister Andrew Barr has repeatedly said the ability to travel interstate and overseas is dependent on the decisions made by the Commonwealth Government and interstate jurisdictions.

Restrictions will begin easing in NSW on the Monday after the state hits a vaccination rate of 70 per cent double dose.

The NSW Government currently anticipates this happening on Monday, 11 October, with 80 per cent being reached on Monday, 25 October. Unlike the ACT, until the beginning of December freedoms will be dependent on an individual being vaccinated.

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