The World Health Organisation identified COVID-19 as an international health emergency on 30 January 2020.
In March 2020, nationwide regulations were introduced to encourage physical distancing which impacted the ability of businesses to trade as normal. Movement across state borders were also restricted.
Following May 2020, regulations have been implemented on a local basis in response to increased case numbers.
In March 2021, the Greater Brisbane region in Queensland saw restrictions reintroduced on 29 March. The restrictions were extended until the end of the month and ended on 1 April.
In April 2021, Perth and some regional areas of Western Australia had restrictions in place from 24 April through to 26 April.
In May 2021, Victoria was under lockdown restrictions from 28 May. These remained in place until June.
In June 2021, there were restrictions across multiple states and territories, including:
- Victoria - restrictions introduced in May remained in place for the first three days of June in regional Victoria, and the first ten days of the month in Melbourne. Restrictions such as mask wearing in all public indoor settings (such as retail and workplaces), remained in place for the rest of June.
- New South Wales - on June 26, stay-at-home orders were introduced across Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Wollongong. Some Eastern Sydney local government areas saw restrictions introduced a day earlier than the rest of Greater Sydney.
- Northern Territory - lockdown restrictions were introduced from 1pm, 27 June. This initially applied to Darwin and surrounds, however, restrictions were expanded to Alice Springs on the last day of the month. Restrictions remained in effect until early July.
- Western Australia - lockdown restrictions for Perth and surrounds were introduced 29 June. Restrictions remained in effect until early July.
- Queensland - lockdown restrictions for South-East Queensland and Townsville were introduced at 6pm, 29 June. Restrictions remained in place until early July.
In July 2021, restrictions continued to impact multiple states and territories, including:
- New South Wales - for the entire month, the Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Wollongong regions remained under stay-at-home. Non-essential retail was closed from 18 July onwards.
- Northern Territory - restrictions introduced in June remained in effect until 2 July.
- Western Australia - restrictions introduced in June remained in effect until 2 July.
- Queensland - restrictions introduced in June remained in effect until 3 July. Some restrictions for non-essential retail continued past this date. The state re-entered lockdown at 4pm on the last day of the month.
- Victoria - lockdown restrictions were introduced at 11:59pm, 15 July and were in place until 11:59pm 27 July. Some restrictions, such as mask wearing in workplaces and offices, had been eased from 9 July until 15 July.
- South Australia - lockdown restrictions were in place from 6pm, 20 July through to 6pm, 27 July.
In August 2021, the following states and territories were impacted by restrictions:
- New South Wales - Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Wollongong remained under stay-at-home orders for the entire month. Over the first half of August various regional cities and townships within New South Wales were sent into snap 7 day lockdowns. These lockdowns were extended, and a state wide regional lockdown commenced at 5pm 14 August, lasting into the following month. From 23 August, garden centres, office supply and hardware supply businesses within Sydney's "Local Government Areas of Concern" were restricted to click and collect shopping, as well as wholesale trade.
- Queensland - South East Queensland was under stay-at-home orders for the first 8 days of the month. Cairns was under lockdown restrictions from 8 August through to 11 August.
- Victoria - restrictions were reintroduced in Melbourne at 8pm 5 August, and remained in effect for the remainder of the month. Regional Victoria went into lockdown from 8pm 5 August until 11:59pm 9 August. A second regional lockdown commenced at 1pm 21 August and was in place for the remainder of the month.
- Australian Capital Territory - restrictions were introduced at 4pm 12 August. This was the first lockdown for the territory since nationwide restrictions in 2020. The territory remained in lockdown for the remainder of the month. From 28 August non-essential small retailers were able to operate click and collect.
- Northern Territory - Greater Darwin was under lockdown restrictions from midday 16 August through to midday 19 August. Katherine spent an extra 24 hours in lockdown.
In September 2021, the following states and territories were directly impacted by restrictions:
- New South Wales - Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, and the Central Coast remained under stay-at-home orders for the entire month. Some regional areas came out of lockdown on 11 September. A number of regional areas came out of lockdown, or returned to snap lockdowns as the month progressed.
- Victoria - Melbourne remained under stay-at-home orders for the entire month. Most regional areas were under restrictions from the prior month until 11:59pm 9 September. Some parts of regional Victoria returned to lockdowns as the month progressed.
- Australian Capital Territory - stay-at-home orders were in place for the entire month.
In October 2021, the following states and territories were directly impacted by restrictions:
- New South Wales - Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, and the Central Coast remained under stay-at-home orders until 11 October. A number of regional areas that were also subject to stay-at-home orders early in the month also saw the end of these restrictions on 11 October. While the lockdown was lifted there were still considerable restrictions in place across the state for the remainder of the month. These restrictions included density limits for hospitality venues and limits on visitors to homes which were eased further on 18 October.
- Australian Capital Territory - stay-at-home orders were lifted at 11:59pm 14 October. Significant restrictions remained in place after this date. Non-essential retail was limited to click and collect for the first week after lockdown lifted, and there were density limits for hospitality venues and limits on visitors to homes.
- Victoria - lockdown on Greater Melbourne ended at 11:59pm 21 October. Significant restrictions remained in place after this date. Some non-essential retail were required to operate in outdoor settings. and there there were density limits for hospitality venues and limits on visitors to homes. These restrictions were eased further on 29 October.
- Tasmania - the southern part of the state, including Hobart, saw a three day lockdown mid-month.
In November 2021, the following states and territories were directly impacted by restrictions:
Northern Territory - the Greater Darwin and Greater Katherine regions entered into lockout and lockdown restrictions at 12:01am 5 November. Under lockout, fully vaccinated people could continue life as normal wearing a mask, while the unvaccinated were subject to full lockdown and only permitted to leave home for five essential reasons: medical care, access essential goods/services, perform essential work, exercise and/or provide care/support. Darwin's lockout was lifted at 11:59pm 9 November. Katherine transitioned to a lockout on 7 November that lifted at 5pm on 8 November. The Katherine region was again placed into lockdown from 6pm 15 November with a number of regional areas entering into either lockdown or lockouts as the month progressed.
New South Wales - travel between Greater Sydney and regional New South Wales allowed from 8 November for fully vaccinated people, while hospitality density restrictions moved to the 1 person per 2 square metre rule from 8 November.
Victoria - at 11:59pm 18 November, Victoria moved to Phase D of their reopening plan, after reaching more than 90 per cent of their 12 year old and older population being fully vaccinated. Capacity and gathering limits for fully vaccinated adults were removed.
Australian Capital Territory - from 1 November, vaccinated people from New South Wales and Victoria were able to enter without quarantine, while the unvaccinated required a permit. From 12 November, density limits of 1 person per 2 square metre applied for hospitality with restrictions eased for cinemas, swimming pools, indoor and outdoor entertainment venues with fixed seating and nightclubs re-opening.
In December 2021, the following states and territories were directly impacted by restrictions:
Northern Territory - the Binjari region transitioned from lockdown to lockout restrictions at midday 7 December, ending 24 hours later. Tennant Creek entered into lockdown on 17 December, which transitioned to a lockout on 23 December. On 19 December Ali Curung entered lockdown which ended on 23 December. Multiple regions were impacted by lockout restrictions including the Greater Katherine and Rockhole regions, Lajamanu, Kalkarindji, Daguragu, Timber Creek and Gilwi regions.
New South Wales - restrictions on unvaccinated adults were lifted on 15 December, with density limits removed, masks no longer needed indoors, and QR code check-ins only required for high risk settings. However, mask mandates for indoor settings were reintroduced on 23 December, and QR codes made mandatory for supermarkets, shops and hospitality venues. On 27 December, density limits of 1 person per 2 square metres were reintroduced for hospitality venues.
Victoria - from 11:59pm 23 December mandatory masks indoors for people aged over eight years old were reintroduced, except for homes.
Queensland - from 1am 13 December, the Queensland borders re-opened for interstate and international travellers subject to strict vaccination, testing and quarantine conditions depending on travel category. As at 5am 17 December, specific businesses able to trade at 100 per cent capacity for the fully vaccinated, including retail specific businesses such as cafés and restaurants.
South Australia - Level 1 restrictions were reintroduced at 12pm 26 December including a wide range of density restrictions by business setting.
Western Australia - from 6pm 23 December mandatory mask wearing restrictions for the Perth-Peel region reintroduced for all public indoor settings; certain high-risk large-scale events were cancelled, and nightclubs closed.
Tasmania - borders re-opened to vaccinated travellers on 15 December subject to conditions.
Australian Capital Territory - indoor mask mandate reintroduced on 21 December for all indoor settings including retail and hospitality venues.