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(Image: Unsplash/Evgeni Tcherkasski)

As of May 8, social distancing in the Australian Capital territory is now defined as gatherings of up to 10 people indoors and outdoors.

Here is the latest update on:

  • Social distancing in the Australian Capital Territory 
  • Education
  • Work
  • Travel 
  • What’s closed?
  • What are the fines if you don’t follow the rules?

(This article will be updated as new changes are implemented to keep you informed.)

Social distancing in the Australian Capital Territory

Australian Capital Territory residents can now gather in groups of 10 indoors and outdoors while adhering to 1.5m spacing between each person.

Residents can leave their homes for the following reasons which include:

  • Leaving the home to shop for essential items such as food and medicine
  • Leaving the home on compassionate grounds
  • Leaving the home for medical or healthcare needs 
  • Leaving the home to exercise
  • Leaving the home to work or study, if those activities cannot be carried out remotely
  • Leaving the house for recreational activities such as picnics, outdoor gym classes and auctions

The ACT government is currently urging the public to:

  • Stay home whenever possible and only go out when it is essential 
  • Keep a distance of 1.5 metres between yourself and other people
  • Avoid shaking hands, hugging, or kissing other people
  • Use ‘tap and go’ payments instead of cash
  • Minimise visits to vulnerable people, such as those in aged care facilities or hospitals, elderly people, infants, or people with compromised immune systems. Many facilities, including hospitals and aged care facilities, have specific rules and restrictions in place for visitors, so please check before you visit

Education

As it stands, children of essential workers or parents who cannot work remotely will be offered supervision from teachers at nine designated public school sites.

A staged return to schools will begin in mid-May, and the aim is for all schools to be re-opened by June. 

During this staged return to school, parents and carers of students can decide whether or not to continue with remote learning. 

By June 2, the ACT government expects all students will be able to return to school. 

Work 

Workers who can continue to work remotely are encouraged to do so. 

The ACT government says: “Canberrans can still go to work, however, the health advice on how to prevent the spread of germs in our community is clear — maintain good hand hygiene, practice social distancing, and if employees are unwell, they should stay home”.

While it is expected the easing of restrictions, soon to be announced by the ACT government, may allow for groups of up to 10 people to gather, there is no indication on when workers will be able to fully return to their places of work. 

Travel

The ACT government has not closed the region’s borders, however, if you are travelling from another state, you may need to quarantine. 

Public transport has seen delays and cancellations over the last few weeks but services are still operating. 

What’s closed?

The following businesses have been ordered to close since March 23:

  • Pubs
  • Licensed clubs and hotels (excluding accommodation)
  • Gyms
  • Skateparks
  • Indoor sporting venues
  • Cinemas
  • Beauty salons
  • Play centres and outside playgrounds (playgrounds on school grounds may be utilised by students of the school during the normal hours of operation of the school)
  • Places of worship.

Since May 1, the ACT has allowed for Canberrans to shop for non-essential items, which means a number of retail stores have been invited to reopen, although they are not obliged to do so. 

Businesses that provide essential goods and services such as groceries, medical supplies and care are still operating.

What are the fines if you don’t follow the rules?

On the spot fines for those breaching the two-person rule, and not following social distancing protocols, are $1,000 for individuals and $5,000 for businesses.

Read: Coronavirus statistics | When will the lockdown end?

Peter Fray

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