Rooftop Bar Melbourne

Pubs & clubs: the new rules around Australia

June 15, 2020
By Alana House

The announcement of further easing of restrictions in Victoria and NSW is welcome news for many licensed venues as new rules come into effect around Australia.

Victoria has been the strictest Australian state during the pandemic, but the Government will finally allow patrons to have a drink without a meal and up to 50 people to attend venues from next week.

However, Australian Hotels Association state chief Paddy O’Sullivan said the decision would only help a small number of pubs.

“If you want to go beyond 100 people in a pub, you have to have a massive 400 square metres,” he told the Herald Sun.

“In a small pub you can only have so many people in your venue. It’s a killer.”

He urged the Victorian Government to match Western Australia’s rule of one person per two square metres.

Here’s the full rundown of current restrictions around the country.


From Monday, June 22, an increase from 20 to 50 seated patrons has been announced for restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs, with the ability to purchase alcoholic drinks without ordering food.

However, Victorians must be willing to provide their contact details at the door before ordering a drink. And the four square metre rule for indoor gatherings still has to be observed.

Standalone TABs will also reopen, while TABs in pubs will need to adhere to venue restrictions on patron limits.

From Monday, July 20, pokies at pubs, clubs and the casino will reopen.


In NSW, the state government is going a step further than Victoria and scrapping the 50-person limit at indoor venues altogether from July 1.

Instead, venue owners must follow the one person per four square metres rule. And all activity in hospitality venues needs to continue to be seated.

NSW was the first state to allow poker machines to resume operation on June 1, with social distancing rules in place.

Music festival and nightclubs will continue to remain closed in July as the heath advice remains that these venues and activities pose a high risk of the virus spreading. It is anticipated that restrictions will be eased further in August if community transmission of the virus remains low.

Sneaky Possum
The Sneaky Possum.

The NSW Government will also relax rules on granting new liquor licences in the Sydney CBD in a move to reinvigorate Sydney’s nightlife.

Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said: “These changes will kick-start a new era in Sydney’s 24-hour economy.

“In some CBD locations, this will be the first time in 11 years that applications for new venues will be considered.”

Northern Territory

Stage three coronavirus restrictions eased from noon on June 5 in the Northern Territory.

Territorians no longer need to order food while consuming alcohol at a pub or bar. The two-hour time limit for patrons attending venues has also been lifted, as has the 10-patron table limit. And all licensed gaming activities have resumed.

But other rules within pubs and bars remain in place, such as physical distancing.

South Australia

From Friday, June 19, maximum occupancy limits per room in a venue will be increased from 20 to 75 people per room. The total cap per venue will increase from 80 to 300 people. However, venues will only be permitted to hold one person per 4 square metres of floor space.

From June 29, the new rules mean there will be no total cap on numbers for indoor venues such as pubs and restaurants – just the 4 square metre rule – plus patrons in venues will need to remain seated.

Poker machine rooms in pubs will also be reopened from June 29.

Western Australia

From June 6, a 2-square-metre rule replaced the one person per 4 square metres requirement in WA venues, and indoor and outdoor gatherings of up to 300 people per venue were allowed.

The Grosvenor Hotel, Perth.

Patrons at pubs and bars are able to drink alcohol without buying a meal, though they have to remain seated.

TABs and Pub TABs have reopened for betting and watching events, but Crown Casino gaming floor remains closed for gambling. 


Under the new rules, from June 5, venues in Tasmania have allowed to service food and/or drinks to up to 40 seated patrons at pubs, clubs, bars, RSLs and community clubs.

Each setting where dining occurs must not have a density of seated patrons greater than 1 per 4 square metres.

The restriction on the number of diners applies to the venue as a whole regardless of whether the venue has multiple separate dining rooms.

Contact details for the person who made the booking or at least one diner from a walk-in group must be recorded for future contact tracing if needed.

Betting services and TAS Keno may operate within venues. Gaming areas (electronic gaming machines) must remain closed. Casinos and nightclubs remain closed, except for cafes, bars restaurants within these venues. Up to 20 people are allowed in TAB retail outlets.


Canberra’s hospitality venues will be allowed to welcome up to 100 people per enclosed space from midday, June 19. Patrons will be allowed to drink alcohol without ordering a meal, but they must be seated and in groups of no more than 10 people.

Venues must maintain a one person per 4sqm in total occupancy loading,

Keno and TAB facilities are allowed to open within licensed venues, but poker machines must remain closed.


Stage 2 eased restrictions came into effect in Queensland on Monday, June 1.

Plough Inn Brisbane
Plough Inn, Brisbane

The new rules mean licensed premises can offer dining-in or seated drinking for up to 20 patrons, or more with an approved industry COVID Safe plan.

For any dining-in or seated drinking service with a COVID Safe plan that allows for more than 20 patrons, it must be divided into defined areas that will have no more than 20 patrons within them, who must be separated from other defined areas by a minimum of 1.5 metres at all times, remain seated and stay in the defined area and be served at their table.

The patron limit only applies to in-venue dining and drinking if an area of 4 square metres per patron is provided.

A maximum of 100 people will be allowed in casinos, gaming rooms and gambling venues from July 10, according to the State Government’s reopening roadmap.

Pictured main: Rooftop Bar at 252 Swanston St, Melbourne, reopens June 25.

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