Restaurants Reopening in Australia: Here’s What You Need to Know

Updated 28 May 2020

It’s the question on everyone’s lips: When will restaurants reopen in Australia?

Well, after a long two months of lonely dining chairs and tables, restaurants across the country are finally able to reopen their doors for dine-in customers.

Of course, it’s not going to be complete business as usual just yet. Restaurants have a number of precautionary measures in place, to ensure both restaurant staff and diners have the safest dining experience possible.

This is an extremely difficult time for the hospitality industry, as well as other similar businesses around Australia. The announcement to allow restaurants to reopen for a very limited number of diners is a small improvement, but we must remember that this is not a viable option for all.

Therefore, let’s continue to support our favourite restaurants in any way we can. Whether that’s continuing to order takeaways from those unable to offer dine-in or are booked out, purchasing vouchers and being incredibly patient while Australia’s hospitality scene adjusts to this unfamiliar terrain. This is going to need to be a team effort.

Although it may be a while until many aspects of the dining experience go back to normal, we have already seen restaurant communities from all over the world adapting in creative ways.

An Amsterdam restaurant creating cosy and isolated greenhouses for guests to dine inside is just one example of how the industry is fighting to keep the unique and memorable aspects of dining experiences alive.

Mediamatic in Amsterdam have created safe and intimate dining spaces on the waterfront. Photo credit: Willem Velthoven for Mediamatic Amsterdam. \[…\]

Restaurants reopening in Australia

From state to state, here’s what you need to know about restaurants reopening for dine-in services in your neighbourhood.

New South Wales

At the moment, restaurants and cafés in Sydney and other cities and towns across New South Wales are open to accommodate up to 10 patrons at any given time. Pubs and clubs attached to restaurants are also eligible to reopen under the same restrictions. From Monday 1 June, these restrictions will be slightly eased to allow restaurants, cafés, bars and clubs to seat up to 50 people at any one time.

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It has recently been announced by Premier Daniel Andrew that Melbourne and Victoria restaurants and cafés will be able to resume dine-in services from Monday 1 June. A limit of up to 20 customers will be allowed at any one time, which could increase to 50 from Monday 22 June. Until then, do what you can to support your local restaurants. Order takeaways from Melbourne cafés, get a boozy brunch delivered, purchase a gift card or send a #whenwedineagain message.

South Australia

Up to 20 patrons are currently allowed to dine in at restaurants in Adelaide and across South Australia, where a limit of 10 may be seated indoors and 10 outdoors. This includes pubs that have seating available, although alcohol may only be served with food.

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Although bars remain closed, restaurants and pubs may reopen in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and other parts of Queensland to accommodate up to 10 diners at a time. This will be in effect from Friday 15 May.

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Chief Minister Andrew Barr recently announced that Canberra restaurants and cafés may up for up to ten diners as of midnight on Friday 15 May.

Book a restaurant in Canberra

Western Australia

For Perthlings, up to 20 diners may dine-in at cafés and restaurants at one time, however al fresco dining is strongly recommended where possible.

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Tasmania’s reopening plans will see restaurants and cafes reopening for up to 10 people from Monday 18 May. Based on the state’s recovery roadmap, the capacity for dine in customers is expected to rise to 20 diners on 15 June.

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Northern Territory

After completing stage one of the recovery plan, the NT will head into stage two from Friday 15 May. This means restaurants and cafes can offer dine-in again. While there are no limits to the number of customers allowed inside each venue, dining times are limited to two hours per party. Of course, each restaurant must also adhere to a strict COVID safety plan.

Deer Duck Bistro is one of the first restaurants in Brisbane that will be reopening for dine-in customers from Saturday 16 May Image Credit: Deer Duck Bistro \[…\]

What new rules and regulations can I expect when dining out?

What social distancing measures will be implemented inside the restaurants?

Restaurants must be able to provide a distance of four-square-metres between each dining party.

Do I need to book a table?

Many restaurants are choosing to make bookings essential. This will eliminate lines of people waiting outside and less frustration for diners. Therefore, we highly recommend making a restaurant reservation online.

Will I need to ‘sign in’ to the restaurant?

Tracing and tracking is an important part of hospitality establishments being able to reopen. These records allow health authorities to trace possible infections back to the original source. This is why many restaurants have decided to make bookings essential in order to have diners’ details on file. Australians are encouraged to download the COVIDSafe app to make the process as easy as possible for businesses.

Do I need to wear a face mask?

Unless you have COVID-19 symptoms, the Australian Government has confirmed it is not mandatory to wear face masks. This includes inside dining establishments. The best thing to keep yourself and others safe? Keep washing your hands thoroughly and practice responsible physical distancing.

Will there be hand sanitiser available at the restaurant?

You bet. To be approved as a COVID-19 safe restaurant, hand sanitiser must be readily available for diners throughout the venue.

Who can I dine out with?

The number of other people you can dine out with differs from state to state, depending on the particular social gathering restrictions and of course the limit on seated diners. Australia’s Department of Health outlines the social gathering limits that are in place for each state.

Is there a time limit for how long I can dine in at the restaurant?

For most states, it’s up to the restaurant to decide if they wish to enforce a time limit. However, in the NT a maximum dining period of 2 hours will be in place from Friday 15 May. Dining restrictions or not, it’s best to not overstay your welcome and allow the restaurant to seat new diners.

What other measures are in place?

The Restaurant & Catering Association has released ‘the new normal guidelines’ to help restaurants reopen safely. Expect tap and go payments, the absence of communal staples such as salt & pepper from dining tables, recyclable cutlery and crockery as well as disposable, lamented or chalkboard menus. Establishments like Brisbane’s Corbett & Claude have even launched apps so that customers can access menus at the touch of a button.