20 October 2021

Yes, the rules have changed again: when and what can I do now?

| Lottie Twyford
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Up to 25 people could gather outside from 15 October; from 29 October, it will be 30 people. Photo: Supplied.

While easing restrictions may make us all smile (and dance, soon enough), it can be hard work keeping up with all the changes.

As we’ve seen in the past week, dates are subject to change, so bear that in mind as we move forward.

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

Thursday, 21 October

From 11:59 pm on Thursday, all retailers will be able to operate.

This includes both non-essential retail as well as certain essential retailers that have previously been subject to operating as click and collect or click and deliver services only.

These businesses will be subject to capacity limits of one person per four square metres.

Monday, 25 October

Early childhood centres can reopen and pre-school to year 2 and years 6, 9 and 10 students will return to on-campus learning.

After-hours care will also be available to on-campus learners.

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Friday, 29 October

From 29 October, face masks will be mandatory for indoor use only.

As previously flagged:

  • Maximum of 10 visitors to the home
  • 30 people can gather outdoors
  • Cinemas, galleries, museums and cultural institutions open with restrictions.

There will also be a host of other changes to density limits but these are a little bit complex.

All of the following activities can operate without density limits up to the 25 person mark. However, when this is crossed, the following density limits apply:

  • For hairdressers and beauty services, as well as seated service in food courts, it’s one person per four square metres
  • For hospitality and licensed venues, gaming and gambling venues, fitness and sport, weddings and funerals and community facilities, it’s one person per four square metres indoors, one person per two square metres outdoors or up to 300 people
  • For organised sport and swimming pools, it’s one person per four square metres indoors, one person per two square metres outdoors or up to 500 people.

The following restrictions will also be eased;

  • Changerooms at organised sports and swimming venues can open
  • Organised (ticketed) events can have up to 500 people
  • Dance classes, choirs and bands can resume with up to 20 people or one per four square metres
  • Events and performance venues, conferences and cinemas will also reopen, subject to restrictions.

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Monday, 1 November

This is a big day for two reasons.

First, in the Territory, all students will now return to school. That’s years 3, 5, 7 and 8 who can return to on-campus learning, and all students can attend their usual out of school hours care programs.

It’s also (likely) to be the date that travel to all of NSW is open. The Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman, says that from this day, localised hotspots across the state can still be declared if necessary.

NSW will also drop its ‘Greater Sydney’ exclusion zone, so Canberrans and Sydneysiders can travel freely (hopefully).


It might just be time to return to some of the city’s nightlife spots from 26 November. Photo: File.

Friday, 26 November

If there was ever a day that we should’ve been labelled ‘Freedom Day’, it would be this one.

Facemasks will only be necessary for indoor high-risk settings.

High-risk settings are defined as hospitals, aged care facilities, correctional facilities, residential accommodation facilities that support people who require frequent, close personal care and who are vulnerable to severe disease, or where there is a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission due to close proximity and difficulties maintaining physical distancing.

Also from 26 November:

  • Interstate travel will be managed by restrictions in high-risk LGAs only
  • There will be no limit on visitors at home or outdoors
  • All retail and other businesses can open to the public with density limits of one per two square metres.

But there’s more. While some density limits of one person per two square metres indoors and outdoors will remain in place for specified businesses:

  • Eating and drinking while dancing will be permitted
  • Dancing is permitted
  • There will be no limit on class numbers for gyms
  • Events can have up to 100 people without needing an exemption, and
  • Cinemas can have 100 per cent fixed seating.


It’s an unknown at this stage. What we do know is that there will be ‘baseline’ public health restrictions in place until at least the end of the year.

See the full pathway document online now for more specific details.

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Tom Worthington4:30 pm 20 Oct 21

It will be an interesting, and perhaps panic inducing, experience entering a store again. I have been buying groceries by click & collect and home delivery. But as a result groceries have been costing about 1/3 more, and delivery of some products costs almost as much as the item.

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