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Can I go for a drive? Can I go to the beach? Here’s how coronavirus restrictions are easing in some states


After a tough few weeks, some states and territories are starting to relax their coronavirus restrictions.

That means today could look quite different to recent weekends.

It’s up to each jurisdiction which restrictions they ease, and when, and how, but we’ve answered some commonly-asked questions about what you can and can’t do for now.

Can I go to the beach?

Depends on the beach!

Some major beaches around Australia have been closed due to people flouting social distancing rules.

Some of these are starting to reopen, and others were never closed in the first place, but authorities have urged people not to flock to the sand and sea for the sake of it.

If you’re in Western Australia, you’re not travelling outside your region and your local beach is open, you sure can go — you can even hang out with a whopping nine friends while you’re there.

In Queensland, as of Saturday, people can travel up to 50km for recreation as long as you’re social distancing and only joined by the people you live with or one other person — so if you live close to the beach, you can go.

A swimmer facing the beach, with 'We've got our beach back' written in zinc on his back.
It was cause for celebration when Bondi Beach was reopened for locals.(ABC News: Jesse Dorsett)

The Northern Territory has announced a stack of relaxed restrictions starting from yesterday, and while it doesn’t directly reference going to the beach, it does give boating, sailing, swimming in lakes, rivers and natural pools, exercising outdoors and fishing the thumbs-up.

Surfing is permitted in Tasmania, as long as gathering rules are adhered to and you’re sticking to your local area.

Victoria has closed some beaches, but the rules there say that if a beach is open, people can go there briefly for exercise provided social distancing is maintained.

Beaches are being dealt with on a case-by-case basis in New South Wales — Bondi, Bronte and Tamarama beaches reopened earlier this week but will close on the weekends, and authorities say beaches will shut again if rules are broken.

Be aware before going to any beach that Surf Life Saving patrols may not be operating as usual, so swimming may not be safe.

For example, Surf Life Saving South Australia ended their beach patrol season early to protect staff and volunteers from COVID-19.

No matter which state or territory you’re in, check your council’s website for localised beach closures and advice.

What about a national park?

Parks Victoria have closed high-visitation parks, as well as barbecue facilities, drinking fountains, picnic spaces, rotundas, toilets, viewing platforms and Visitor Information Centres until further notice, urging everyone to stay home.

New South Wales has taken similar measures to Victoria, closing spaces and cancelling tours, and all national parks and reserves in Tasmania are closed too.

But most national parks in South Australia are still open for locals, as long as you’re socially distancing (and don’t go there if you’re unwell).

Most of Western Australia‘s national parks are open, and they’ve even lifted some closures on campgrounds within national parks, state forests and reserves.

Queensland is reopening some national parks and recreational spaces this weekend, but others remain closed for now.

The Northern Territory started to reopen some reserves and parks from midday yesterday, but restrictions for designated biosecurity areas remain in place.

A fence with a sign saying to stay one kangaroo apart with a waterfall behind
Some national parks are open for hiking and exercise, but others aren’t.(ABC Radio Adelaide: Spence Denny)

Rangers are operating as usual in ACT parks and reserves that are still open, and residents have been warned that spaces will be closed if people don’t follow the rules.

No matter where you are, check your state or territory government’s website for which spaces are open and closed in your area — it’s not safe to go to a national park or reserve that’s closed.

Most campgrounds around the country remain restricted or closed too, so check in advance before packing up the tent and sleeping bags.

Can I visit my holiday home?

Even though some of us can start to leave the house a little more, now’s still not the time for a holiday.

A holiday is specifically listed as not an acceptable reason to leave home in New South Wales, and residents there have been urged to postpone or cancel all travel plans.

In Tasmania, if your shack isn’t your primary residence, you shouldn’t be going there unless it requires urgent repairs or maintenance.

If it’s your primary residence or you’re there for quarantine, you shouldn’t be leaving. You can’t come and go.

Victorians have been told to only travel between two residences if it’s absolutely necessary and once you get there, stay there.

Queenslanders have been instructed not to operate short term accommodation like Airbnbs, but there’s exemptions in place for people who are away from their usual residence for a permitted purpose to use that accommodation (including for quarantine or isolation orders).

Non-essential travel is still prohibited through or into biosecurity zones in the Northern Territory.

If you’re in the ACT you’re allowed to travel internally, but it’s not advised to do so unless it’s essential. Same in South Australia.

Be cautious of regional border restrictions in Western Australia — they shouldn’t be crossed without an essential reason.

Can I have a picnic or hang out at a park?

Queenslanders can from Saturday, as long as it’s limited to members of your family or one other person.

South Australians can too — it’s recommended you limit your picnics to two people, but you can have up to 10.

From yesterday, the Northern Territory began allowing gatherings in outdoor areas, outdoor group exercise, non-contact outdoor sport, and for skate parks and outdoor gym equipment to reopen.

Outdoor gatherings of 10 people are also now allowed in Western Australia and picnics in the park are A-OK, but picnic and recreational areas at Water Corporation-managed dams remain closed.

A police officer speaks to a woman sitting on an outdoor bench during the coronavirus outbreak
If you are spending time at a park, it’s crucial to maintain social distancing as much as possible.(AAP/Joel Carrett)

Many public parks and spaces are still open in the ACT for recreation, but people have been urged to maintain social distancing.

Victoria‘s rules say parks can still be used for brief, socially-distanced exercise only, and kids should be kept away from play equipment, water bubblers and picnic tables.

Tasmania has closed reserves and national parks for recreational use completely, including for walks, mountain biking, and tours, so steer clear of those right now.

Parks in New South Wales are open for exercise too, and the NSW Government has recommended people check their local council’s website for the latest parks advice.

Outdoor gatherings in NSW are limited to two people not of the same household.

Playgrounds remain off limits in most states, excluding the NT which reopened playgrounds yesterday.

Can I go for a drive?

If you’re in Queensland, as of Saturday you most certainly can go for a drive, as long as you’re not going further than 50km from home.

There’s currently no restrictions on travel within South Australia, but travelling without an essential reason is discouraged. Same in the ACT.

There is a lot more recreational activity now permitted in the Northern Territory, and no advice that says you can’t drive to do those.

a car drives on a winding road in low scrub
It’s recommended to only travel for essential purposes at the moment.(Supplied: SA Tourism)

Victoria has declared non-essential car trips ‘irresponsible’ — the rules there maintain that you should only be driving if it’s to do an essential activity specified in their health directions, and they’ve strongly discouraged driving with passengers who don’t live in your household.

You shouldn’t be leaving home in New South Wales unless it’s for an essential reason, so while you can drive to go and do those things, road trips aren’t a good idea right now.

The situation in Tasmania is similar in that you shouldn’t be going out unless it’s essential. Driving lessons are still allowed there.

Western Australia has regional travel restrictions within the state, so it’s best not to rock up to a checkpoint if you’re simply going for a leisurely Sunday drive.

Can I visit my grandparent in an aged care facility? 

This depends on a few factors, including your facility’s rules on visitors, how far away the facility is and whether anyone involved is unwell.

If you are sick in any way, even if your symptoms are minor, do not visit an aged care facility.

Don’t visit if you’ve come back from overseas in the past two weeks, or have come into contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus.

You also now can’t visit an aged care facility if you haven’t had an up-to-date flu vaccine.

Some aged care facilities have gone into lockdown and aren’t accepting any visitors at the moment.

An elderly couple down a mall with the help of a younger woman.
Lots of people are missing their grandparents right now, but it’s important to keep them safe.(AAP: Glenn Hunt)

Others have reduced visitor allowances, limited access for kids or imposed strict limits on numbers or the duration of the visit.

Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged nursing homes to allow visitors where possible, and said the Commonwealth may step in if they don’t — but at the moment it’s still up to the facility to implement their own rules on visits.

Contact your relevant aged care home in advance to find out exactly what their visitation conditions are.

All the relevant travel restrictions apply here too, meaning you can’t travel long distances unless there are care or compassionate exemptions involved.

We know there’s lots of people out there missing their grandparents and other family members right now — if you can, pick up the phone and give them a call!

Can I play golf or other sport?

Tasmania says yes to golf, if it’s for exercise and the two-person rule is applied.

Victoria, on the other hand, says a flat out no.

Non-contact, non-collision sports are back on in the NT as of yesterday — so if you’re into athletics, tennis, swimming, shooting, archery, badminton, geocaching, paddling, lawn bowls or golf, you’re in luck.

Two golfers walk along the fairway at Marrickville Golf Course, April, 2020.
States and territories are divided about whether golf counts as essential or not.(ABC Radio Sydney: Matt Bamford)

Queensland‘s latest update says ball games can be played in parks, but only if you’re with your household or just one other person, and some golf courses are open conditionally.

Golf NSW backed the sport being played almost the whole time we’ve been under coronavirus restrictions, but it’s not compulsory for clubs to be open, so check with yours first.

Some courses are open in South Australia too, with all the relevant distancing measures, but others aren’t.

Same with tennis, and SA also currently allows team training as long as the group isn’t larger than 10 people.

If sport is non-contact and involves ten people or less, Western Australians can get back to playing under their latest relaxed restrictions (golf courses and outdoor tennis courts are allowed to open there too, with social distancing requirements).

Sports grounds are still open for recreation in the ACT, but the Government says it’s the community’s responsibility to keep up that social distancing, and if it’s too crowded, leave

No matter where you are, call ahead to make sure your club is open and check for any special conditions before you go.

A golfer sanitises their hands at Marrickville Golf Club, April, 2020.
If you are playing sport of any kind, maintain social distancing and practise good hygiene.(ABC Radio Sydney: Matt Bamford)

Can I get my nails done?

Not this weekend, no.

According to the national advice, all nail salons, beauty therapy, spas, massage and tattoo parlours have to keep their doors closed.

If you’re in the Northern Territory though, you don’t have much longer to wait — it was announced this week that beauty parlours were among the businesses that can reopen from midday on May 15.

For everyone else, we’ll be busting out the nail polish and doing our own nails for a while yet.

Can I go fishing?

From noon yesterday, fishing was permitted again in the Northern Territory.

From Saturday in Queensland you can fish to your heart’s content, as long as you’re within 50km of home and keeping up your social distancing.

Western Australia has also permitted fishing and boating, as long as it complies with travel restrictions and there’s no more than 10 people to a group.

The New South Wales Department of Primary Industries implies that fishing could be classified as exercise, as long as people comply with the two-person rule, but hunting has been banned in the state.

Two people in a small boat, fishing on a lake in golden light.
Check your state government or primary industries department website for the latest on boating and fishing.(Pixabay)

PIRSA recommends that South Australians don’t go fishing and stay at home, but if you’re going to go anyway, stay close to home and follow social distancing directions.

In Tasmania, socially-distanced fishing and boating is permitted for exercise and recreation “in line with looking after your mental wellbeing” in some locations, but national parks and reserves are closed for fishing and hunting, so you can’t go to those locations.

Boating, fishing and water skiing is not permitted in Victoria at the moment.

Can I go to a friend’s house?

Under changes to restrictions that took effect yesterday, two adults and their children are again allowed to visit another household in New South Wales.

Queensland can have a maximum of two friend or family visitors too.

Even if a household has more than two residents, people can still meet in South Australia — no more than two people at a time recommended.

Ten people are allowed to gather in Western Australia, and the Northern Territory is allowing various indoor and outdoor gatherings with friends from midday yesterday too, including having visitors to your home.

It’s not recommended in South Australia to meet with more than two people at a time, but you can get away with up to 10, as long as you’re keeping 1.5 metres distance between everyone.

The two-person rule applies to all non-essential indoor and outdoor gatherings in the ACT, unless it’s people from the same family or household.

A woman takes a photo of another woman posing outside the Sydney Opera House which is deserted
Some states are allowing people to see their friends now, in limited circumstances.(Reuters//Loren Elliott)

Tasmania‘s directions say you can’t go to another household for a ‘social visit’, only for care or support purposes.

If you do have visitors, you can have a maximum of two people no matter how many people live at the house.

Victoria has also warned against social visits, so you can only go to someone’s house if you’re providing care or support to them.

Can I go to the pub yet?

No. No you can’t.

Hang in there.

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