Easing of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions

Australia's federal, state and territory governments are gradually easing restrictions around public gatherings, how businesses can operate, and regional travel. Find out more about the National Cabinet's framework for reopening to create a COVIDSafe Australia with new ways of living and working.

Living in a COVIDSafe Australia

Australia has been highly successful in ‘flattening the curve’. The number of new COVID-19 cases in Australia each day is very low. We are now taking careful steps to ease some of the restrictions that have helped us suppress the spread of this virus.

From the beginning there have been differences in how COVID-19 has spread in different parts of the country. In May, the National Cabinet agreed a 3-step plan to gradually remove baseline restrictions until July 2020. The plan was based on the expert advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC). They made recommendations on how to establish COVIDSafe ways of working and living.

On 13 November, the Commonwealth, with all states and territories except Western Australia, agreed to the new 'Framework for Reopening Australia by Christmas'.

Easing of restrictions is the decision of each state and territory government, taking into account their local circumstances. This means states and territories may move at different speeds. Find out more about the restrictions in your state or territory.

Staying committed to flattening the curve

As we move through each step, there needs to be a strong commitment from all of us to:

  • stay 1.5 metres away from other people whenever and wherever we can
  • maintain good hand washing and cough/sneeze hygiene
  • stay home when we’re unwell, and get tested if we have respiratory symptoms or a fever, and
  • download the COVIDSafe app so we can find the virus quickly

Our success depends on us making these behaviours part of our daily lives during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep us COVIDSafe.

Whenever you leave home, you should think about how you’re going to keep yourself, family, friends and co-workers safe. Make conscious choices about what you do and when you do it.

This is particularly important for people who are at greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19, their friends and their family.

The framework for national reopening and creating a COVIDSafe Australia

National Cabinet’s new 'Framework for National Reopening Australia by Christmas' provides a pathway for states and territories to move toward COVIDSafe communities in a way that suits their circumstances.

States and territories will move between the steps on the pathway at different times, in line with their public health situation and local conditions. They’ll need to maintain strong and prompt control of any outbreaks.

The plan gives Australians some certainty about what is to come in the months ahead. In conjunction with advice released by Safe Work Australia, it will help our businesses make decisions about how they can operate in a COVIDSafe way. This will help them to protect their customers and workers.

For each of the major areas of restrictions we have set out 3 key steps between where we are now and where we want to be.

  1. In step one, limits to the size of gatherings, both indoor and outdoor, apply. This is to reduce the likelihood of any community transmission of COVID-19. People can travel freely in areas with no community transmission.
  2. In step two, people can attend and host larger gatherings and move around more in areas without any community transmission. States and territories will remove their domestic borders. As businesses take steps to ensure they are COVIDSafe, we should all feel safe and confident doing some of the things we've missed.
  3. The third steps are where we start to embrace long-term COVIDSafe ways of living and working. These arrangements will be our 'new normal' while the virus remains a threat. Restrictions will be minimised. Large gatherings, interstate travel, and the possibility of travel to New Zealand and other low risk international partners, will be underpinned by COVIDSafe practices. It is likely some restrictions, on things like international travel and mass gatherings, will remain.

Monitoring our progress

National Cabinet will regularly review our progress. As restrictions ease, they will be closely monitoring the situation to assess the impact of the changes so we can move forward safely and with confidence.

As set out in the Pandemic Health Intelligence Plan endorsed by National Cabinet on 1 May 2020, they will consider:

  • the pattern of disease around Australia
  • the capacity of our public health surveillance and testing approaches to detect and isolate cases
  • the readiness of our health system to respond to outbreaks while also meeting people’s ongoing health needs, and
  • how well people are following the health advice and abiding by the restrictions in place

This information will guide decisions on the steps each state or territory takes as we make Australia COVIDSafe. 

Australia is prepared for an increase in case numbers or possible outbreaks. It may be that in some parts of the country we sometimes must take a step back to contain a local outbreak. This should be the exception rather than the norm.

We want to avoid the uncertainty and disruption of turning restrictions off and on again, including further health, economic and social shocks as a result. Our continued success depends on all Australians staying COVIDSafe.

All Australians have an ongoing role to play in protecting their families, co-workers and the most vulnerable in the community.  


National coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccine helpline

If you need information about COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccines or help with the COVIDSafe app, call 1800 020 080. If you need assistance with booking a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, please note the call centre is unable to book appointments on your behalf.

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Last updated: 
26 November 2020

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