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What you can and cannot do in Sydney

Everything you need to know about the changes to restrictions in the city and beyond

Maxim Boon
Written by
Maxim Boon
&
Alannah Maher
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Updated: October 1, 2021

For up-to-date information on current regulations, you can also visit nsw.gov.au

Are we in lockdown?

Greater Sydney, including the Central Coast, Wollongong, and the Blue Mountains, and parts of regional NSW are currently in lockdown until October 11. However, while hospitality venues, non-critical retail shops and more will be able to re-open from this date, restrictions will still apply to people who are not fully vaccinated until December 1. We've covered everything you need to know about NSW's three-stage plan to exit the pandemic over here.

Right now, you are only permitted to leave your home for four reasons:

  • essential shopping;
  • Outdoor recreation or outdoor exercise in groups of no more than two people within your home LGA or within 5km of your house;
  • for compassionate reasons or caregiving; or
  • for essential work or study if you are unable to do so from home.

Only "critical retail" (explained below) is allowed to continue trading.

As of Monday, September 20, the 12 LGAs of Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown, Liverpool, Blacktown, Cumberland, Parramatta, Campbelltown, Penrith, Georges River, Burwood, Bayside and Strathfield, that had previously been subject to stricter lockdown rules, are under the same lockdown rules as the rest of Greater Sydney.

What about if I'm already vaccinated?

Fully vaccinated people are still subject to lockdown measures, but they do have one small perk currently. If you are fully vaccinated you can gather with up to four other fully vaccinated people in an outdoor setting for recreation such as a picnic or exercise. You may be asked to produce proof of your vaccination status. Here's how you can download your immunisation certificate into your digital wallet.

You can find full details here.

Where am I allowed to go?

You are only permitted to travel within your home LGA or up to a maximum of 5km from your home unless you have to travel further than that to reach a shop for essential supplies.

If you are an authorised worker, you are permitted to travel further than 5km for work only.

People living in Greater Sydney must apply for a permit to travel to regional NSW, via the NSW government website.

Should I get vaccinated?

Yes, as soon as you are able to do so. From August 31, anyone between 16 and 60 can book a Pfizer vaccine or an AstraZeneca, and anyone over 60 can book an AstraZeneca vaccine.

Because the Delta strain currently spreading in Sydney is so contagious, health experts have said that unlocking Sydney may not be possible until a high proportion of the population have been inoculated. Unvaccinated people will currently live under lockdown rules until December

Check out our guide to getting vaccinated in Sydney right now.

Should I wear a mask?

Yes. Across NSW, you must wear a mask at all times when you are outside of your home, unless you are exercising and breathing heavily or it's completely impractical, such as if you are swimming for exercise.

You must also wear a mask while in any common area of an apartment block, even if you live there. This includes foyers, stairwells, lifts, common corridors and shared laundry facilities. While it is not mandatory to wear a mask outdoors when you can maintain social distancing, it is encouraged and you must carry a mask with you whenever you are outside of your home, even if you are not intending on going into an indoor setting.

Wondering where to pick up a mask locally? Here are some stylish and locally-made options.

Can I have friends or family over?

No. If you're dropping off essential supplies to someone who can't leave their home or get things themselves, drop them at the door and leave. That counts as caregiving, but you may not enter someone else's premises unless absolutely necessary. 

I live alone. Can I have visitors?

If you live alone you can now establish a 'singles bubble' with one other person. 

Can I see my significant other?

Yes, intimate partner visits are allowed. 

Can I go to work?

Only if you're an essential worker. If it is possible for you to work from home, it is now mandatory to do so, and on-the-spot fines of $10,000 can be issued to employers who insist their workers come to work when it is not necessary. If you are an essential worker going to work, you need to carry a permit with you at all times.

All construction, renovations, repairs, maintenance, and cleaning works are permitted in Greater Sydney under certain restrictions and masks must be worn. Any construction works must comply with a mandatory Covid-19 Safety Plan. In the LGAs of concern, further restrictions are in place and works can only take place for emergencies and urgent matters.

Can I go to a restaurant or café?

Restaurants and cafés can open for takeaway and delivery only until October 11.

What about pubs and bars?

Pubs and bars are also only allowed to serve takeaway or delivery until October 11. 

Can I go shopping?

Only for essentials, and you should not loiter. You can only go shopping within your home LGA or within 5km of your home. Only "critical retail" is permitted in Sydney until October 11. This includes:

  • Supermarkets and grocery stores (including butchers, bakeries, fruit and vegetable stores, liquor stores and fishmongers);
  • Stores that predominantly sell health, medical, maternity and infant supplies;
  • Pharmacies and chemists;
  • Petrol stations;
  • Car hire;
  • Banks and financial institutions;
  • Hardware and building supplies;
  • Agricultural and rural supplies;
  • Pet supplies; and
  • Post offices and newsagents

Businesses that offer a click-and-collect service, such as K-Mart or Big W, will be allowed to continue offering that service, but shoppers will not be allowed to enter the store to browse.

Can I use public transport?

If you are leaving your home for essential work, caregiving or essential shopping, you can. But it is mandatory to wear a mask at all times when using public transport, including in waiting areas for public transport, even if the vehicle or platform is relatively empty. You can also only sit where indicated by a green spot sticker. These are in place to ensure social distancing. Carpooling for any reason in Sydney is currently banned, so if you do need to travel for an essential purpose, using public transport is advised.

Can I visit art galleries and museums?

Museums and galleries are not allowed to open. However, many of them have taken their offerings online if you're hankering for a culture fix. 

What about the theatre and live gigs?

All theatres and gig venues and other performance spaces in locked-down areas are closed. The are permitted to re-open to reduced capacities after October 11.

Can I get a haircut or visit my beauty therapist?

Hairdressers, salons, spas and barbers are not permitted to open until lockdown rules ease after October 11.

Can I work out?

Yes, but only in groups of two if you are unvaccinated and in groups of five if everyone present has had two doses of a vaccine. However, you must remain within your LGA or within 5km of your house.

From September 27, all public pools across NSW will also be allowed to reopen.

Everyone in NSW needs to carry proof of address when out exercising or for recreation, although this does not need to be an official piece of ID like a driver's licence. You must wear a mask when exercising, either alone or with one other person, unless it is completely impractical (for example, if you are ocean swimming or sprinting and breathing heavily). People found ignoring these rules can be subject to an on-the-spot $3,000 fine.

Gyms are not permitted to open until after October 11, but for the time being, outdoor fitness areas in public parks are still accessible.

Can I travel around regional NSW and Australia?

Travel beyond 5km from your home is only permitted for authorised workers. If you're based in Greater Sydney and need to travel to regional NSW for work, you will need to apply for a permit to do so. Regional travel outside of Greater Sydney is set to be permitted after the state reached 80 per cent double vaccinated. 

Can I go to my holiday home?

You can only travel to a second home or holiday home if it is necessary for work and you are an authorised worker. Otherwise, trips out of the city are not permitted at present. 

Can I have a party?

Absolutely not. Mixing of households is strictly forbidden under the current stay-at-home orders. 

Can I hang out in a park?

Yes you can, as this is considered "outdoor recreation", but you must abide by mask rules. If you are unvaccinated you must not mingle with others, however, if you've had both jabs you can hang out in a park with up to four other fully vaccinated people.

What about the beach?

Yes, but only if the beach you're going to is within your home LGA or within 5km of your house. You may not travel further for recreation purposes. You'll also need to abide by health rules, including wearing a mask – yes, even when you're sunbathing – and observing social distancing. You may go to the beach with your household or, if you're fully vaccinated, up to four other fully vaccinated people. If you're going to the beach for exercise, you are permitted to do so with one other adult outside of your household.

Can I travel overseas?

All international travel, with very few exceptions, is still very much baned until international borders reopen in November. If you are returning from overseas, you will be required to quarantine for 14 days in a hotel before rejoining Australian society. Fines and legal proceedings for those found breaking travel restrictions remain in effect.

Can I, or should I, get tested?

The state is currently battling a particularly dangerous foe: the Delta variant, which is by far the most highly contagious strain of the virus identified thus far. Because this strain does not require direct contact to spread, it is extremely easy to catch with what health experts describe as "extremely fleeting contact" – some recent studies suggest that the Delta variant is as much as 1,000 times more infectious than other strains of the virus. Therefore it is more important than ever that people get tested even if they have the slightest of symptoms. 

Stay safe

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