(Image: Unsplash/Mike Erskine)

Social distancing in Northern Territory has been eased since May 1. As of May 15, restrictions have been eased further with more businesses re-opening and residents of Northern Territory being able to enjoy much more of the activities they used to.

Here is the latest update on:

  • Social distancing in Northern Territory 
  • Education
  • Work
  • Travel 
  • What’s open? 
  • 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 Northern Territory

While safe social distancing has always been recommended in the Northern Territory, the number of people who could gather in a social environment has also always been higher than other states and territories. 

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The Northern Territory originally had a 10-person rule in place. Since May 8, this rule has been lifted to allow for an unlimited number of people to attend weddings and funerals, while adhering to social distancing rules.  

The region is now in stage one of the three-part plan to bring Northern Territory back to ‘normal’, or as close to normal as we once knew it. 

Territorians are now allowed to do the following:

  • Exercise outdoors with other people, such as doing yoga and boot camps
  • Participate in non-contact, non-collision outdoor sports such as athletics, golf, tennis, swimming, shooting, archery, badminton, geocaching, paddling and lawn bowls. (Note: you cannot use a clubhouse facility to consume food or drink)
  • Meet up with people in outdoor areas, including gatherings such as markets, weddings and funerals
  • Conduct and attend outdoor religious gatherings
  • Visit parks and reserves, including campgrounds that are accessible from where you are without needing to enter a restricted area biosecurity zone
  • Swim in a lagoon at the waterfront, rivers and natural pools outside the biosecurity zones
  • Go fishing, boating, sailing with other people
  • Attend a public swimming pool, water park or recreational lake for swimming or water sports
  • Use a skate park, outdoor public playground or outdoor gym equipment
  • Conduct or attend a real estate open house inspection or a real estate auction
  • Have visitors to your home
  • Shop at their leisure

From May 15, North Territory residents have been allowed to:

  • Serve and consume food or beverages in a shopping centre food court.
  • Operate and attend restaurants, cafes;
  • Operate and attend a bar, sports or RSL club (alcohol allowed with the consumption of food), excluding gaming activities;
  • Participate in organised training activities for sporting clubs and teams;
  • Operate or attend an indoor market;
  • Operate or attend a beauty therapy salon for (non-facial) services, such as nails, massage and tanning;
  • Operate or attend a studio that provides yoga, Pilates, Zumba, barre, dance classes;
  • Operate or attend physical training activities indoors such as Cross Fit.
  • Operate and attend a gymnasium;
  • Visit a public library or a toy library, or indoor playground;
  • Operate and attend a place used for religious worship; and
  • Attend an art gallery, museum, public memorial, public historic site, zoo or wildlife facility.


All students have been expected to attend face-to-face classes since April 20.


From June 5, all businesses will be allowed to reopen under the condition that they have a COVID-19 plan in place.


Remote Indigenous communities currently have protections in place to stop non-essential visitors from crossing into these areas. These restrictions will be assessed on June 18. 

Strict border controls are still in place on all access points to the Northern Territory, including road, rail, air and sea. People who are not eligible for an exemption will need to complete 14 days of self-quarantine on arriving in Northern Territory. 

Currently, NT Police and Australian Federal Police are manning border controls, and NT Police and public and environmental health officers will undertake quarantine compliance checks to ensure people are doing the right thing. Fines will apply if you are not.

There are currently no plans in place to re-open borders, but NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner has said lifting those restrictions will be “dead-last” on the list. 

What’s open? 

  • Grocery stores
  • Schools
  • Retails stores
  • Public work-out areas
  • Parks
  • Skate-parks
  • Swimming pools 
  • Public transport 
  • Chemists 
  • Petrol stations
  • Convenience stores
  • Freight and delivery services
  • Childcare centres
  • Shopping centres
  • Hairdressers and beauty salons
  • Cafes and restaurants, for takeaway only
  • Mechanics
  • Butchers and bakeries
  • GP clinics
  • Universities and TAFEs, although many have resorted to online lectures
  • Banks
  • Gyms
  • Nature reserves and parks

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

There are penalties of up to $62,800 for failure to comply with the directions. Read more about the Chief Health Officer Directions.

Read: Coronavirus statistics | When will the lockdown end?