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Australia Coronavirus Shutdown: What Is Still Open And What Is Banned

A breakdown of what the government has categorised as essential and non-essential as restrictions come into effect.

As the situation in Australia surrounding coronavirus changes daily, so do the restrictions being enforced by the government.

After announcing Stage 1 and Stage 2 coronavirus restrictions, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has introduced a two-people rule being enforced by states and territories, with some on the spot fines for those who break the law.

Up until Sunday, gatherings had been restricted to 10 people in an outdoor area. This advice has now changed to two people.

While there are many things still open as outlined below, the strong advice is that people must stay home unless shopping for groceries, seeking medical care or caring for others, to exercise or to attend work or school - if that can’t be done remotely.

What Is Open

Doctors and Pharmacies

Services provided by doctors and pharmacies are categorised as essential and will not be closing. General practitioners can now conduct telephone consultations and post out prescriptions. Those with Covid-19 or flu-like symptoms are advised not to go to the pharmacy themselves.


Services provided by dentists fall into the essential indoor gathering/healthcare categories that the government says will remain open.

However, it’s best to ring your dentist to check whether they are open or performing limited procedures, as the Australian Dental Association is “recommending that dentists minimise the provision of routine dental treatment until 30 April 2020”.

Vets And Pet Grooming

Veterinary hospitals will be open as they provide an essential service addressing pet health.

Sydney Animal Hospitals will keep their six locations across the city open, with boarding services and grooming also available.

“We have a non-contact protocol and have made several changes to our practice to ensure the hospitals can stay open and are not at risk of a shut down,” said Practice Owner and Veterinarian, Dr Sam Hayes.

Puppy school will be suspended, but Dr Hayes said their “puppy trainers are providing online content so puppy owners can at least follow some training steps”.


Major supermarkets Woolworths, Coles, IGA and Aldi will remain open for customers’ essential grocery needs. After already designating senior hour at 7am and bringing the closing time forward to 8pm, Woolworths will be reducing its trading hours across some stores.

Trading hours will be 11am to 6pm across 41 stores (called Priority Delivery Hubs) to prioritise delivering groceries to more vulnerable people.

Emergency services and healthcare workers are also able to shop from 7am to 8am on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Coles.

Local Delis

It is up to the individual food business but some small delis are staying open to serve the community. The family-owned Deli Erskineville in Sydney will stay open until the father and son team think it’s unsafe to close.

“We want to keep serving the community fresh food and meal options for as long as it is possible to do so,” owner Jeremy told HuffPost Australia.


Most bank branches remain open, implementing safety measures for customers who come in. Online banking and speaking to a virtual banking assistant with pressing questions have also been recommended by financial institutions.

Post Offices

Australia Post offices will remain open, and posties and delivery drivers will continue to work.

“Customers can be assured they will continue to be able to send and receive parcels and mail, pay bills and use Bank@Post during this time,” read an official statement issued Monday.

There are delays to some international and interstate travels given logistics and border restrictions.


Hairdressers are open. On Tuesday PM Scott Morrisson said the 30-minute rule had been scrapped, but salons must still follow the four square metres per person rule. Looks like you can still get the cut and colour you wanted now.


The scaling down of weddings and cancellation of events has taken its toll on the floral industry but many florists are still open.

Inner-Sydney florist, The Floral Decorator said on Wednesday, it is following strict Covid-19 guidelines to keep customers safe as well as staff.

“We are asking that only one customer to be in store at one time and asking that customers wait outside,” owner Kelly told HuffPost Australia.

“We have been gifting flowers to all our local cafe and restaurants to support them, and giving to customers and the elderly who are passing by. We are going day-to-day.”

Restaurants and Food Delivery Services

Restaurants are open for takeaway services only, and that includes food outlets in shopping centre food courts.

However, some restaurants have chosen to close as they struggle to survive with the social distancing restrictions.

Fine dining restaurant in Sydney’s Darling Harbour, Zaaffran, closed its doors this week. At this stage the restaurant will be shut for the next month.

Food delivery services such as UberEats, Deliveroo, MenuLog and Door Dash are all providing contactless delivery options. Some restaurants are encouraging customers to phone up, order and personally pick up the meal in order for the business to avoid hefty fees from delivery giants. If you choose delivery, health authorities emphasise staying 1.5m apart and not touching each other.


Shopping centres remain open though many retail chains and individual stores have already announced closures.

Michael Hill jewellers announced Tuesday they were closing 300 stores across the globe, 165 of which are in Australia.

Women’s fashion retailer Forever New said on Wednesday all physical stores will be closed, though its online store will continue operating and purchases will be delivered to shoppers.

A sign informing customers that the Microsoft store is closed on Pitt Street mall on March 21, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.
A sign informing customers that the Microsoft store is closed on Pitt Street mall on March 21, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.

Weddings and Funerals

Weddings are permitted but only five people can be present - the couple, celebrant and two witnesses.

Funerals are restricted to 10 people, and it’s predicted that online streaming of funeral services will increase. Funeralcast, a provider of funeral webcasting services, says it has seen a 600% increase in enquiries over the past two weeks.

“Until recently, most of the viewers were people who couldn’t get to a service because of a physical barrier,” said Funeralcast director Scott Gorman.

“They might live in a nursing home, interstate or overseas. But with all the frightening news and distancing rules around Coronavirus, a lot of younger people who would normally attend are feeling scared about being in groups - especially among people they may not know.”

Update: On Tuesday night the Prime Minister said “In hardship cases, states and territories can provide exemptions in relation to attendance at funerals, but only at the margin”.

Dry Cleaners

Dry cleaning services are allowed to stay open, with businesses adopting health and safety measures during this time. Some small businesses have chosen to close, so best to ring your local dry cleaner first.

Mastery Dry Cleaners in Melbourne has said their services are safe to use amid the Covid-19 crisis, as “the dry cleaning solvents that we use and our drying temperatures that are between 40 – 60 degree Celsius, which will not allow micro-organisms to survive”.

E-Dry is a specialised carpet dry cleaning company, and is assuring customers that technicians carry hand sanitiser, sick technicians do not work, and customers who have travelled outside Australia in the last 14 days or been in contact with anyone with coronavirus, postpone their booking.

What Is Not Open

Nail and Beauty Salons

On Tuesday night the PM said nail and beauty salons had been added to Stage 2 of business closures and restrictions. These include laser hair removal, tanning clinics, tattoo shops and massage (excluding health related).

Laser and cosmetic beauty clinic You By Sia is keeping its prime store in Bondi open till 7pm on Wednesday March 25 before compulsory closures kick in at midnight. The company said it will continue to take online orders of beauty products while they are closed.

Gyms, Outdoor Exercise Areas

All gyms as well as yoga, pilates and wellness centres are closed. Some fitness services are happily freezing memberships, while others are encouraging customers to continue supporting their businesses by using online classes and workout apps.

As per the new two-people rule, group boot camp sessions are no longer permitted and outdoor gym and exercise areas are now closed.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 22: The F45 Training's Recovery Session launch at QT Melbourne on August 22, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Sam Tabone/WireImage)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 22: The F45 Training's Recovery Session launch at QT Melbourne on August 22, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Sam Tabone/WireImage)

Libraries, Community Centres, Galleries And Public Playgrounds

These are all closed, though some libraries will have online access to literary resources. State Library Victoria has said people have free online access to library collections and ebooks, journals and other databases with a library membership.

On Sunday the PM said public playgrounds would be closed as the two-people rule comes into effect.

Real Estate Inspections And Auctions

Group onsite auctions and open homes have been banned. Instead virtual property tours, private inspections, telephone and digital auctions are being conducted by many companies.

Health and safety measures are being adopted for private inspections. CBRE Residential Projects for example, sent an email to all customers saying:

“Should you visit there will be some screening questions we’ll need to ask you in addition to practicing safe social distancing guidelines including observing a distance of 1.5m between people and limiting numbers to 3 people per appointment.”

Bars, Pubs, Casinos and Nightclubs

These are all closed including the licensed areas of hotels. However, bottle shops are still open.


There’s no chance of catching the latest film on the big screen at the moment. Event Cinemas has said customers who have pre-purchased tickets will automatically receive a refund and email notification.

There will also be extensions on vouchers and gift cards expiring during the temporary cinema closure.

With additional reporting by Carly Williams.

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