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Coronavirus Shut Down: What Non-Essential Services Are Closed In Australia?

Published March 25, 2020 (last updated February 9, 2023) - Head of Health and Safety
Empty Cafe With Chairs On Top Of Tables

As you likely aware, the Federal Government has announced that as of midnight on Wednesday 25 March some businesses will shutdown. This is in addition to those prohibitions announced earlier this week.

What Are Essential Services?

The government has not defined what essential services are.  They have only defined what businesses or industries should close in their shut down measures. Additionally, state governments may also have different measures in place.

What Non-Essential Services Are Closed?

  • Food courts in shopping centres (delivery and takeaway can remain operational)
  • Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery (drive through allowed
  • Auction houses
  • Real estate auctions and open house inspections
  • Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, tattoo parlours
  • Spas and massage parlours
  • Amusement parks and arcades
  • Play centres (indoor and outdoor)
  • Community and recreation centres
  • Health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre and spin facilities, saunas, bathhouses and wellness centres
  • Social sporting-based activities
  • Swimming pools
  • Galleries, museums, national institutions and historic sites
  • Libraries, community centres and youth centres
  • Pubs (licensed bottle shops attached to pubs may still operate)
  • Registered clubs
  • Gyms, indoor sporting venues (this includes indoor dance classes)
  • Cinemas, entertainment venues (including music halls, concert halls, billiards, pool or gaming arcades)
  • Casinos and nightclubs
  • Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery (drive through allowed)
  • Religious gatherings, places of worship (excluding small weddings and funerals that comply with the four square metre rule, which can proceed).

Guidelines For Temporary Shutdown Of Services

What’s Closed

  • Pubs, clubs
  • Gyms, indoor sporting venues
  • Places of worship, including for weddings and funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre
    rule applies)
  • Cinemas, nightclubs, casinos
  • Cultural institutions, galleries, museums, including the National Gallery of Australia and the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art

What’s Open

  • Banks, post offices, freight and logistics businesses
  • Accommodation, hotels, motels
  • Restaurants and cafes, but restricted to takeaway and home delivery
  • Bottle shops
  • Retail stores, shopping centres
  • Doctors, dentists, vets
  • Hair and beauty salons
  • Centrelink offices, extra staff in call centres
  • Bunnings
  • Petrol stations


  • NSW – Open but parents encouraged to keep children at home
  • VIC – School holidays brought forward, starting on Tuesday
  • QLD – Open
  • ACT – Closed from Tuesday
  • NT – Open but parents can choose to keep children at home
  • SA – Open
  • TAS – Open but parents can keep children at home from Wednesday
  • WA – Open

Are There Any Other Rules?

Hairdressers and barber shops are to adhere to the 1 person per 4 square metre rule in the premises and appointments limited to up to 30 minutes. Further, funerals must be limited to 10 people and weddings will have a maximum attendance of no more than 5 people, whilst also observing the 1 person per 4 square metre rule.

Some activities and venues, such as caravan parks and outdoor and indoor markets (excluding food markets), have been left to the states and territories to decide, so we will update you when this is confirmed.

For a complete list of prohibited activities and venues, see the Australian Government website. Please do not rely on our above list as it is not exhaustive.

What Do I Do If My Business Has Been Ordered To Close?

If this direction means you must shut down your business or parts of your business, there are a number of options available to you:

  • If you are a national system employer under the Fair Work Act and do not have an industrial instrument that covers stand down, you can stand down employees without pay under the stand down provisions in the Fair Work Act due to a stoppage of work which you cannot reasonably be held to be responsible, subject to the conditions outlined on our website here.
  • If this does not apply to you, other options include:
    • consulting with your employees to reduce their hours if parts of your business can still operate (for example, you are a café that can operate takeaway still) and if the employee agrees, put this in writing
    • agreeing with your employees that they will take their accrued leave entitlements or take leave in advance during this time
    • agreeing with your employees to take unpaid leave during this time
    • redundancy

Looking for More Information?

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are Supermarkets Essential Services?

    So far, the Australian government has not officially defined what ‘essential services’ are. They have only listed the businesses that should close down.
  • Are Restaurant Still Open?

    In Australia, restaurants may only open for takeaway. They can not serve dine-in customers. This directive may soon change.
  • Do Retail Workers Still Need to Go to Work?

    If an employee’s workplace is allowed to trade, and has decided to keep trading, an employee may have to go to work if requested.
  • What Happens if Businesses Don’t Comply with the Lockdown?

    If a business does not comply with the lockdown, they may be in breach of various laws. In terms of workplace relations, businesses who refuse to comply with a lockdown order may expose themselves to breaches of workplace health & safety legislation.

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