explainer

'Can I visit my single friend?' All your questions about NSW's COVID-19 rules, answered.

As NSW battles its "scariest period yet" since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, five million residents of Greater Sydney have today been told lockdown will be extended for another month.

It is now due to end on August 28 - nine weeks after the city first entered lockdown. 

NSW police officers patrol the Bondi Beach boardwalk on July 14, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Image: Getty. The four "essential reasons" to leave your home still apply. They are:

  • shopping for food or other essential goods and services;
  • for medical care or compassionate needs (only one visitor can enter another residence to fulfil carers’ responsibilities or provide care or assistance, or for compassionate reasons);
  • exercise;
  • and essential work or education, where you cannot work or study from home.

Below are the restrictions for Greater Sydney and some commonly asked questions about how they apply.

Can I visit my partner during lockdown?

Yes. 

Health officials have clarified that residents of Greater Sydney can visit an intimate partner if they live at another residence.

Can I visit a friend or relative during lockdown?

No - unless you are single and live alone.

You cannot visit another household unless for essential care or compassionate reasons. That may include dropping off food or medicine or fulfilling carers’ responsibilities to a vulnerable person. Only one person is permitted to enter another household for these reasons.

Can I visit my single friend who lives alone?

On Wednesday, the NSW Government announced single bubbles are now permitted. 

This means if you are single and live alone, you can nominate one person who is allowed to visit you. It must be the same person for the next four weeks - you cannot change. 

If you live outside the eight local government areas that have been identified as hotspots, then the person you nominate must also live outside of the eight LGAs.

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The eight LGA hotspots are: Parramatta, Georges River, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown, Liverpool, Cumberland and Blacktown

If do you live in the eight LGAs, the person you nominate must also live in the eight LGAs and be within a 10km radius of you.

Can I go for a walk or do outdoor exercise with friends or family?

Under the tightened restrictions, you can only exercise or pursue recreation outdoors with:

  • members of your household; or
  • in groups of two. (That means you and one person who you do not live with.)

But again, Sydneysiders are being strongly urged to avoid mixing with people from other households unless it's absolutely essential.

The restrictions also stipulate that you cannot travel outside your local government area or more than 10km from your home for exercise. Carpooling is also prohibited.

Can I travel to a different suburb?

You can only leave the house for one of the essential reasons. So if it's for essential work or care purposes, yes. 

However, for shopping and exercise, you must stay within your local government area or within 10km of your home.

Can I carpool?

No. The NSW Government says if you are travelling by car, you cannot share the car with other people you do not live with.

Are hairdressers open?

No. Hairdressers and beauty salons are not considered an essential service and are closed for the duration of the lockdown.

Are gyms open?

Indoor exercise is not allowed in Sydney's lockdown rules.  

Are retail stores open?

Most retail stores are closed.

The government has, however, released a list of critical retail stores that can continue to trade, including supermarkets and shops that sell office supplies. 

Mask-wearing is mandatory in all non-residential indoor venues.

Sydney will be in lockdown until at least August 28. Image: Getty.  

Can I go to the beach?

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If you are doing exercise, yes. But again, only if that beach is in your local government area or within 10km of your home.

Can community sport go ahead?

No. Community sport is not permitted. 

Can I sit outside?

No. That has not been identified as one of the essential reasons to leave home.

A sign at Centennial Park tells locals to not sit. Image: Getty. 

Can I move house during lockdown?

Yes. One excusable reason to leave home is to "move to a new place of residence, or between your different places of residence".

However, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant has stressed that people cannot get help from friends or family when moving.

"Do not mix with anyone outside your household. We really need to stop our interactions with others at this time," she said.

Can I go house-hunting or to an auction?

No.

Under the restrictions there are no open houses and real estate auctions must be held online.

"If you want to see a house — because obviously, people don't want to end up homeless — then you can book an appointment with your real estate agent," he said.

Feature image: Getty. 

This article was originally published on July 14, 2021 and has been updated with new information on July 28, 2021.