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People are super confused about the 5km rule, so here’s everything you need to know

NSW Health has now tightened the language of the rules to close any potential loopholes

Maxim Boon
Written by
Maxim Boon

Updated: August 24

In lockdown, the name of the game is limiting people’s mobility. The less people move, the less the virus can move. But essential infrastructure needs to keep functioning and people need to be able to buy essential goods, so some allowances for movement need to be made.

Until recently, the rules around movement seemed, at first glance, fairly straightforward: you can only leave your house for four essential reasons, and you must not travel more than 5km from you home. Easy, right? Not quite. Because slightly different rules applied to Sydney’s hotspot LGAs, and because much less densely populated areas of the state were in lockdown for the first time, certain caveats had been worked into the language of the rules. These were to allow for specific individual needs, such as someone living in a rural area that is not within 5km of essential goods and services. However, some people were apparently using this ambiguity as a loophole to circumvent movement restrictions.

NSW Health has now tightened the language of the 5km rule to make sure there is no room for abuse or misunderstanding.

If leaving home for obtaining food or essential goods and services:

The goods and services must be obtained within the local government area where you live, or within 5km of where you live, but not in an area of concern; unless the goods or services, or their equivalent, are not reasonably available within the local government area where you live, or within 5km of where you live. Stay within your local government area. You can cross into another local government area if it is within 5km of your home and it is not a local government area of concern.

If leaving home for exercise:

Exercise and take outdoor recreation within your local government area or, if you need to cross into another local government area, stay within 5km of your home.

If you live in one of Greater Sydney’s 12 hotspot LGAs – Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Liverpool, Campbelltown, Blacktown, Parramatta, Georges River, Strathfield, Penrith, Bayside and Burwood – you are not permitted to leave your home LGA and you may only travel a maximum of 5km from your house for any reason, unless you are an authorised worker. 

Compliance with health orders has become perhaps the most important facet of the ongoing outbreak, as the state’s most restrictive rules to date have done little to slow the surging spread of the virus. While it is technically true that some people can travel more than five kilometres from home, whether they should is up to each of us to decide, and that choice has to be one that takes into account not only our own needs but also the needs of everyone in the state. Just. Stay. Home.

Are you across all the current restrictions? Check out our handy explainer.

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