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NSW – COVID Restrictions Update

Published January 06, 2021 (last updated January 11, 2021) Author: Employsure

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The NSW Government has introduced new restrictions on Sunday 3 January due to the current surge of COVID cases. The following rules apply to Greater Sydney, Central Coast and Wollongong, except for the Northern Beaches which have a different set of restrictions. Rural and regional NSW are unaffected by the following restrictions.

Face Mask Requirements

People who enter or work in the following premises will be required to wear a mask:

  • supermarkets
  • shopping centres, but not a recreation facility (indoor) in a shopping centre
  • bank branches and post offices
  • Service NSW centres
  • hairdressing, nail, beauty, tanning, waxing salons. spas and massage parlours
  • tattoo parlours
  • gaming lounges and betting agencies
  • entertainment facilities
  • gaming areas in licensed premises (including casinos)
  • premises, including places of public worship, being used for public worship or religious services
  • residential aged care facilities (rule applies to visitors, not residents).

On-the-spot fines may be issued to those not following the requirements.


You are not required to wear a mask if you

  • are a child aged 12 or under
  • have a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability, that makes wearing a mask unsuitable (for example, a skin condition, an intellectual disability, autism or trauma).

You may remove your mask when you are

  • eating or drinking
  • communicating with another person who is deaf or hard of hearing
  • at work and the nature of your work 
    • makes wearing a face mask a risk to your or another person’s health and safety
    • means clear enunciation or visibility of your mouth is essential
  • asked to remove your mask for identity purposes.

You may also remove your mask for the proper provision of goods or services, for example, if a customer is receiving a facial or beard trim. 

Weddings, Funerals and Religious Services

There are specific and detailed rules for each of the above. There are common restrictions:

  • A maximum of 100 people in attendance
  • One person per 4 square metres in indoor areas, one person per 2 square metres in outdoor areas

Further information on the specific restrictions may be found here.

Hospitality Venues, Events and Musical Activities

Hospitality venues must follow the following restrictions:

  • Generally ensure that there at least 2 square metres of space in outdoor areas and 4 square metres of space in indoor areas, for each person on the premises or in the area, as applicable.
  • Businesses that prepare and serve food and drink to customers on the premises or for takeaway need to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan for their venue type.
  • A maximum of 300 people, subject to the 1 person per 4 square metres rule applies for each separate area of a hospitality venue.
  • It is mandatory for staff who deal directly with the public to wear a face mask in hospitality venues, including any part of premises licensed under the Liquor Act 2007 that is used primarily for the purposes of gaming .
  • The operator of the hospitality venue is responsible for ensuring all staff working at the venue who deal directly with the public, comply with this rule.
  • Check the COVID-19 Safety Plan for your venue for more information.
  • Penalties apply to venues found to breach the public health order rules.

Nightclubs must close.

For more information on entertainment facilities, function centres, trade shows and exhibitions, cinemas, theatres, outdoor performances and other musical activities, read this page.

Gyms and Fitness Classes

Gyms must be registered as COVID Safe and have a COVID-19 Safe Hygiene Marshal present when there are more than 25 people using the gym at the same time.

The gym COVID Safety Plan applies to any gym that is an indoor recreation facility open to members of the public. This includes gyms that are in a hotel or workplace.

Indoor gyms are subject to the one person per 4 square metres rule.

A maximum of 30 people per class applies to gym and recreation classes such as yoga, tai chi and pilates. 

If a gym is not open to members of the public – such as a gym in residential premises, a home or an apartment building – these requirements do not apply.

A gym does not include a studio for dance, yoga, pilates, gymnastics or martial arts.

Other Sport and Recreation

There are specific rules for community sports, major recreation facilities and boating activities. You can find more information on those restrictions here.

Travel and Tourism

Other than the Northern Beaches, there are no restrictions around travelling to or from regional or rural NSW, or other areas of NSW. Other states and territories may restrict travel from NSW, including some forms of business-related travel. 

Northern Beaches Restrictions

As of Sunday 10 January, the specific restrictions in place in the Northern Beaches have been lifted. The Northern Beaches is now under the same restrictions as Greater Sydney.

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Note from Employsure

The above is a general guide to the restrictions in NSW. For official and detailed information, please visit the NSW Government’s Covid website. If you need further information on how these restrictions impact your workplace as an employer, please get in touch with our advice line or, if you are not a client, we can assist you with free, initial advice on 1300 207 182.

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