Coronavirus restrictions have eased once more in Canberra — here’s what can and can’t do this weekend


If you have been longing for the soothing touch of a warm coffee mug at your local cafe, well, today might be your day.

And if your kids have been pulling you towards the slippery-dip at the park for weeks now, there’s good news on that front too.

Coronavirus restrictions in the ACT have been eased significantly as of this morning, allowing for more businesses to open up a little more, and for much more activity outdoors.

Here’s a comprehensive look at what’s changing, how much it’s changing, and what’s not.

What’s different with cafes, restaurants and pubs? Everything… but, for many, nothing

An empty cafe and restaurant in Canberra, their tables pushed to the side and stacked away.
Canberra’s restaurants and cafes have been closed to customers, save for takeaway, due to coronavirus restrictions.(ABC News: David Sciasci)

Venues like cafes, restaurants and pubs can now seat up to 10 customers at a time, to dine in-house.

Licensed venues like pubs, bars and clubs can only seat patrons that are ordering food — so you can’t go to the pub for a pint, or the local wine bar for a glass of pinot noir, just yet.

The 10-person rule applies to all venues, of all shapes and sizes, and includes both indoors and outdoors dining. So you can’t have 10 customers inside, and a further 10 customers seated outside.

And physical distancing has to be maintained inside too, so 1.5 metres between people, and no more than one person per four square metres.

While some venues have expressed their interest in reopening to seated customers, many have said 10 people were just not enough to make it worthwhile.

So don’t be surprised if your local is still doing takeaway only.

If this all sounds very familiar — a very similar arrangement took effect in New South Wales just yesterday.

Slide, swing, play

A child swings on play equipment, sun shining through the trees.
Playgrounds will once again be available to the public in Canberra from Saturday, May 15.(Unsplash: Johnny Cohen)

Canberra’s 500-plus playgrounds are back open to the public today.

That includes all playgrounds of all sizes — so everything from the huge Boundless Playground by Lake Burley Griffin, to the slippery-dip and swing-set up the street.

But the ACT Government is urging people to lean toward their local park, rather than swarming the larger, more popular playgrounds dotted across the city, in the interest of physical distancing.

It is also (obviously) impractical to constantly clean and sanitise play equipment, so parents are urged to wash children’s hands before and after a trip to the park.

Skate parks and dog parks are also re-opening from today.

If parks are crowded, the advice is not to gather in groups of 10 or more, and find somewhere else if it is particularly busy.

Take a hike

Black Mountain Summit Trai
Canberra’s bushwalkers have been reminded to stay 1.5 metres from others while on the trail.(ABC Canberra: Penny Travers)

The ACT’s national parks and nature reserves will reopen to the public from Saturday morning.

There is one very large and very notable exception — the Namadgi National Park remains entirely closed, due to January’s bushfires.

Tidbinbilla and other nature reserves are open, but the visitors centre at Tidbinbilla will remain closed.

It is day-trips only at this stage, with the ACT’s campgrounds still closed.

Can I visit Sydney and/or the coast and/or the snowies?

Narooma's Wagonga Inlet with bridge leading over bright blue water, as seen from the air.
Narooma’s Wagonga Inlet as seen from the air, a popular South Coast tourist destination.(ABC Illawarra: Justin Huntsdale)

Yes, but only for a good reason.

That good reason pretty much has to be to visit friends or family. And your hosts must not have more than five people around at the same time.

The five-visitor rule is different to the ACT, where there can be no more than 10 people in a home, including the residents, at one time.

There is no limit on how far you can travel in New South Wales to visit friends or family.

A holiday, a day-trip to the beach or a hike in Kosciuszko is not a good reason.

You can still be fined in New South Wales — as you can in the ACT — for breaching the rules, so it is worth staying across them.

Worth noting (as has always been the case) you can travel anywhere in NSW for work.

Can I go for a swim? Legally, yes. Practically… that might be tough

Three people swim in three different swimming pool lanes.
ACT swimming pools are allowed to reopen, with a maximum of ten people allowed to swim at a time.(Unsplash: Serena Repice Lentini)

Swimming pools can reopen from today, with strict limits in place on how many people can open at a time.

There can be no more than 10 people in a pool at a time, with one person per lane.

But don’t put the goggles on just yet.

All ACT Government pools will remain closed, with Gungahlin, Canberra Olympic, Tuggeranong and Erindale pools closed for maintenance.

Dickson and Manuka have closed for winter.

The AIS pool is also closed to the public.

Commercial pools can reopen, but you should check before heading out.

Reading list getting a little thin? Some libraries are reopening

ACT Libraries will start to progressively reopen, with Woden, Dickson and Gungahlin libraries to open from Monday morning.

Physical distancing will be required, and numbers allowed in at a time will be capped.

Everyone who visits is asked to stay for less than half an hour.



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