Restrictions update: State-by-state pub trading

24 May, 2020 by Vanessa Cavasinni

UPDATED 28 May 2020

With government advice, public health orders and shutdown restrictions changing on a sometimes daily basis, it can be difficult to keep up with the circumstances under which a pub can trade. Australian Hotelier has rounded up what is happening in each state for pubs, as governments begin the process of easing restrictions.


Since the Federal Government released its roadmap to a COVIDSafe Australia earlier this month, states have begun to implement the various aspects of the plan at various stages, dependent on their own individual case numbers of COVID-19. Included in theses plans are the re-opening of pubs and other hospitality venues.

Besides present takeaway and delivery F&B offerings, here’s how and when pubs can re-open their on-premise offerings in each state and territory, as they are currently stand. Social distancing measures of 1.5m and one person per 4sqm are still in effect across the country.

New South Wales: The NSW Premier has announced that venues across the state will be able to open for up to 50 people from 1 June. There will be strict guidelines in place regarding the number of people allowed in a venue and what they can do in there and bookings of more than 10 people will not be allowed. The Premier said, “You have to be seated at a table, even if it’s a pub, you have to be seated at the table; you have to be served at the table; there is no mingling, no standing around.”

Victoria: From next month Victorians will be able to enjoy a meal inside a pub, bar, restaurant or café. Victoria’s plan for re-opening allows for 20 patrons per enclosed space from 1 June, increasing to 50 patrons from 22 June and 100 patrons from mid-July. Restrictions on other spaces within pubs and clubs, such as public bars and gaming areas will remain in place throughout June. Venues are also required to record the details of all patrons for contact tracing purposes should the need arise.

Queensland: Queensland is in Stage 1 of its three-stage plan, with Stage 2 hoped to start on 12 June and Stage 3 on 10 July. At present metropolitan licensed restaurants, cafes, pubs, registered clubs, RSL clubs and hotels, may offer seated dining for no more than 10 patrons at a time, and it’s 20 patrons at a time if the venue is in a specified local government area (LGA) in Outback Queensland as long as these patrons are local and can provide proof of residence. No gaming is allowed in Stages 1 and 2, and the sale and supply of alcohol for consumption on premises must occur with a meal.

South Australia: Currently, any business which in their normal course of operation sells food and beverages can open. Seated dining including alcohol service at licensed establishments is allowed for up to 10 people indoors and 10 people outdoors.

From 1 June pubs are allowed to serve alcohol without a meal but they must be seated. Patrons can approach a bar or service area to order but they cannot sit at the bar or service area to eat or drink. At any one time, a maximum of 20 patrons per dining area are allowed, with a total capped capacity of 80, but only if density does not exceed one person per four sqm. People collecting takeaway are not included in these limits, but social distancing of 1.5 metres between themselves must be adhered to.

Western Australia: Seated dining for 20 people within pubs has resumed, but venue staff will have to complete a COVID-19 hygiene course before the resumption of service.

Australian Capital Territory: Currently, pubs offering dining can seat up to 10 patrons, including children, across their whole venue. Alcohol can only be consumed with a meal.

This week the state government announced that from May 30, hospitality venues are allowed 20 seated patrons per enclosed or outdoor space. This means that larger venues will be able to permit more people, given they are across multiple spaces and meet social distancing guidelines. These numbers do not include staff or patrons waiting for takeaway, but social distancing should apply in these cases.

Northern Territory: On-premise bar and dining services (alcohol to be consumed with food) has resumed, with a two-hour time limit for each patron. Gaming offerings are not to be operational. From 5 June, gaming and bar services without food can resume.

Tasmania: Currently in Stage 1 of its roadmap, Tasmania’s Restaurants and cafes in all settings (including restaurants in pubs, clubs, hotels and RSLs) can open and seat patrons of up to 10 people per dining areas, with a total of two dining areas allowed per venue. Seated table service only, one diner per four sqm, and each dining area must have its own wait staff. Alcohol to only be consumed with food.

Stage 2, which will allow for 20 people is scheduled for 15 June, with Stage 3 allowing for between 50 to 100 people and the potential reopening of clubs, bars, nightclubs and casino from 13 July.

Australian Hotelier will continue to report on any further changes made around pub trading restrictions as they are made available.