Gatherings, density and physical distancing

Last Updated: 13 Apr 2021 2:55pm


What is a gathering?

A gathering is the total number of people present in any single undivided indoor space, or in the outdoor area of a premises. All individuals – whether they are business operators, staff, volunteers, attendees, children or babies – are considered part of the gathering number.

Why do we have maximum gathering numbers?

It is more difficult to maintain physical distancing in large public gatherings. Restricting gathering numbers reduces the likelihood of COVID-19 spreading and makes it easier to contact people who may have been exposed to the virus if a case is identified.

Staged easing of restrictions, including a gradual increase in gathering numbers, is being done while we continue to monitor the risk of COVID-19 to Tasmania.

See Gathering limits and Management of Premises Direction for more information.

Note that if the number of people permitted according to the density limit (one person per two square metres) is less than the gathering limit, the lower number applies.

Are there any exceptions to the gathering limits?

The limits do not apply to the following specified premises, but the number of people on these premises should not exceed the total number specified in the occupancy permit for the premises under the Building Act 2016. The specified premises are:

  • Airports and premises used for public or commercial transport
  • Medical or health service facilities, including veterinary facilities
  • Disability or aged care facilities
  • Prisons, correctional facilities, youth justice centres
  • Courts or tribunals
  • Parliament
  • Schools, universities, education institutions, childcare facilities, child and family centres
  • Premises that deliver services and support to disadvantaged community members eg those providing homeless accommodation, boarding houses, emergency/social housing, child safety services, foodbanks, employment services, and migrant and refugee assistance
  • Indoor and outdoor spaces where people are transiting through
  • Boats or pontoons used for commercial tourism purposes with outdoor spaces that are used by patrons for the majority of the tour
  • Emergency services.

A Framework for COVID-19 Safe Events and Activities in Tasmania

The Tasmanian Government has released A Framework for COVID Safe Events and Activities in Tasmania, which supports organisers to plan COVID-safe gatherings from 1 December 2020 that exceed the gathering limits in the Management of Premises Direction.

Depending on the risk profile of the event, it will be classed as Level 1, 2 or 3, and different controls will apply depending on the level.

The Mass Gatherings Direction provides a legal basis for the Framework.

More information on the COVID-19 Safe Events and Activities Framework.

What about gatherings at home?

If you are hosting an event or gathering at home (or another residential property) e.g. a party, barbecue or birthday celebration, please refer to the ‘Household visitors’ section.

What is the difference between indoor and outdoor gatherings?

An indoor space is any area, room or premises that is substantially enclosed by a roof and walls (this also applies to temporary structures, for example a marquee). Outdoor spaces are not enclosed by a roof or walls. The gathering limit of 1,000 people in the outdoor space of a premises still applies where a premises has several outdoor areas. That is, even if a premises has multiple separate outdoor spaces, a maximum of 1,000 people in total are permitted in the outdoor areas of that premises at one time.

Do the limits apply to the entire venue or individual spaces?

For mixed-use venues with multiple indoors spaces, the 250 people indoor gathering cap applies separately to each single undivided space indoors, allowing for two square metres of space per person.

For example, a large hotel with multiple, separate indoor spaces (eg conference room, bar, restaurant, and foyer), is permitted to have up to 250 people for each of these indoor spaces (the density limit applies).

Where a mixed-use venue with multiple indoors spaces also has outdoor spaces, a maximum of 1,000 people in total are permitted in the outdoor areas of that premises at one time.

What is meant by the maximum density limit?

The maximum density limit aims to prevent the crowding of people in a space. A premises must not have a density of more than 1 person per 2 square metres of floor space. This means an operator must not allow people to enter or stay on the premises (indoor or outdoor) if the size of the premises is insufficient to allow for 2 square metres of space for each person.

What is the 2 square metres per person rule?

The maximum number of people at a premises is limited by the floor space of the premises, as a minimum of 2 square metres of space is required for each attendee. This is known as the 2 square metre rule.

The maximum number of people allowed at a premises is the smaller number of either:

  • The maximum number of people for which there is 2 square metres per person
  • The maximum number gathering number specified for the type of venue/activity

How to apply the 2 square metres per person rule

To comply with the 2 square metre rule, measure the length and width of the floor space. Multiply the length by the width to calculate the area in square metres, and divide this by 2. The final number is the maximum number of people allowed in the premises (up to the maximum gathering size).

For example, in hospitality venues, the operator of a premises must not allow people to enter or stay on the premises (whether outdoor or indoor) if the size of the premises is insufficient to allow for 2 square metres of space for each person (the two square metre rule).

Where practicable, the operator should:

  • Ensure that staff and patrons are 1.5 metres away from each other. For groups of people seated at the same table, and for staff at times, this will not be practicable.
  • Arrange the premises in such a way so that the 1.5 metre rule can be adhered to between patrons from different tables.
  • Coordinate arrivals and seating of patrons so that crowding does not occur in arrival/waiting areas.
  • Ensure that there is appropriate space between dine-in patrons and takeaway food pickup areas within the premises.

Read more about requirements of businesses under the COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework.

How do I stay safe in a gathering?

COVID-19 is spread through contact with people. In any gathering or setting it is important to maintain:

  • physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres between people
  • hand hygiene
  • respiratory hygiene (sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissues and clean your hands after coughing or sneezing)
  • frequent environmental cleaning and disinfection.

Why is staying 1.5 metres from others important?

Physical distancing continues to be the strongest safeguard to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You must continue to maintain a safe distance of no less than 1.5 metres between yourself and others, where safe and practical.

Physical distancing in schools

Physical distancing of children in schools, early childhood centres and playgroups is not required under current restrictions. The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advises that there is very limited evidence of transmission of COVID-19 between children.

All adults (including parents/carers) must still maintain physical distance from each other (1.5 metres) but this does not apply to children.

The Framework for COVID-19 Safe Events and Activities in Tasmania supports event organisers to plan and hold larger-scale COVID-19 safe events that exceed the gathering limits in the Management of Premises Direction.

The Framework has been developed in consultation with the events, sports, arts and entertainment sectors and is consistent with World Health Organization, Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, and Public Health Services advice.

The Mass Gatherings Direction provides a legal basis for the Framework. Depending on the risk profile of an event, it will be classed as Level 1, 2 or 3, and different controls will apply depending on the level.

It will be a living document and will be reviewed over time as the rules for mass gatherings and events are updated to reflect the changing COVID-19 situation in Tasmania. The Framework will enable organisers to apply to hold an event under one of three levels.

For further information see COVID-19 Safe Events and Activities Events Framework.

Gathering limits

The number of people allowed to attend events and gatherings depends on the nature of the event (for example inside or outside, fixed seating or standing) and the available space.

The maximum number of people permitted to attend a gathering (other than households, outdoor arenas and stadiums and entertainment venues e.g. theatres, cinemas and concert venues) is:

  • 250 people for an undivided space in an indoor premises; and
  • 1,000 people in the outdoor space of a premises.

The maximum density is one person per 2 square metres of available space.

Where the number of people permitted according to the density limit is less than the gathering limit, the lower number applies.

The maximum number of people permitted on a premises includes staff, volunteers, children and babies.

Where practicable, business operators, staff, volunteers and attendees should maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from other people.

The number of people permitted at businesses/activities (other than households, entertainment venues, outdoor arenas and outdoor stadiums) is determined by the density of the area, up to a maximum of:

  • 250 people for an undivided space in an indoor premises; and
  • 1,000 people in an undivided space outdoors.

The maximum density limit is one person per 2 square metres.

If the number of people permitted according to the density limit is less than the gathering limit, the lower number applies.

All people in any single undivided space count towards the maximum number of people permitted. For example, staff in a restaurant; spectators at a pool; and athletes, volunteers and coaches at a sporting facility are all counted within the maximum number of people permitted in that space. Children and babies also count towards the maximum number.

Where practicable, business operators, staff, volunteers and attendees should maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from other people.

For mixed use venues with multiple indoor or outdoor spaces, the gathering limit applies separately to each single undivided space. For example, a large hotel with multiple, separate indoor spaces (eg conference room, bar, restaurant, foyer, beer garden), is permitted to have up to 250 people for each of these spaces (the density limit applies).

Business restrictions allow standing activities – like darts, pool, eight-ball, snooker and karaoke – in licensed venues.

Standing and drinking alcohol and/or dancing is permitted in premises with a liquor licence or liquor permit up to a maximum of 100 people in indoor spaces and 250 people in outdoor spaces, within current density requirements.

Patrons in other parts of the premises or event can also consume alcohol while sitting down, subject to density requirements.

For example, a venue with a maximum density capacity of 200 can have 100 people dancing, however the other 100 people must be seated to be drinking alcohol.

This cap on the number of people permitted to stand while drinking alcohol and/or dancing is required because large numbers of people mixing freely and closely while consuming alcohol are very high-risk settings for spreading COVID-19.

Compulsory recording of contact details

Under the Contact Tracing Direction, contact information is required from every person who visits a range of businesses, organisations and events for at least 15 minutes.

From 1 May 2021 Tasmanians and visitors will be required to use the Check in TAS app when they visit these places.

Contact details will be stored securely with the Tasmanian Department of Health for 28 days before being deleted. Details will only be accessed by Public Health if contact tracing is needed due to a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the community.

If patrons do not have a smartphone or are unable to use one, others in their group can check in for them on their device or staff at the premises will be able to record contact information on their device or with pen and paper.

Businesses are permitted to refuse entry to a person who does not provide the required information.

Businesses are permitted to refuse entry to a person who refuses to provide the required information.

For more information see Check in TAS.

Entertainment venues include indoor and outdoor cinemas, theatres, concert halls, auditoriums, and similar venues.

Operators of entertainment venues can apply to increase patron numbers above 250 people.

For indoor events without fixed seating, where people are moving freely and mixing, the number of people that may be permitted at any time is no more than one person per two square metres of space, and no more than 1,000 people.

For indoor events with fixed seating, where people have to be seated most of the time, the number of people that may be permitted at any time is up to 75 per cent of the fixed seating capacity, and no more than 2,000 people. If having the venue filled to 75 per cent of fixed seating capacity will cause the density to be more than one person for every two square metres of available space, either the proportion of seats used will need to be lowered to meet the density limit OR staff and patrons will need to wear a fitted face covering (or face mask).

For outdoor events without fixed seating, where people are moving freely and mixing, the number of people that may be permitted at any time is no more than one person per two square metres of available space, and no more than 5,000 people.

For outdoor events with fixed seating, the number of people that may be permitted at any time is up to 75 per cent of the fixed seating capacity, and no more than 10,000 people.

To keep the risk low at gatherings

  • there must be a COVID contact person for every event or venue
  • a COVID-19 Safety Plan must be used at all events and venues
  • the event organiser (or contact person) must be ready to present the COVID-19 Safety Plan to a police officer, WorkSafe Tasmania officer or other officer immediately upon request
  • everyone at an event or venue must keep at least 1.5 metres between themselves and other people, when they can
  • information must be collected to support rapid contact tracing if required (ideally through the Check-in TAS app).

When do face masks need to be worn

Face masks (or fitted face coverings) must be worn at indoor events in entertainment venues with fixed seating, if there are more than 250 patrons, up to 75 per cent of the fixed seating is used and there is more than one person per two square metres. Everyone indoors at such an event will need to wear a face mask unless they are exempt.

Those who are exempt are:

  • people performing at the event
  • people under the age of 12 years
  • anyone with a medical certificate from a doctor, stating that wearing a face mask is unsuitable.

The face mask must cover the person’s mouth and nose.

There are times when the face mask can be removed, including:

  • to talk with someone who is deaf or has impaired hearing, if visibility of the mouth is essential for communication
  • to communicate clearly as part of a person’s job or training
  • to eat or drink.

In these situations, the person must put their face mask back on as soon as they can.

How can I find out more?

To find out more:

Operators of outdoor stadiums and outdoor arenas can apply to increase patron numbers to up to 75 per cent of the number of fixed seats provided. If fixed seating is not provided, the maximum number of people permitted is one person per two square metres of available space.

To keep the risk as low as possible:

  • there must be a COVID contact person for every event or venue
  • a COVID-19 Safety Plan must be used at all events and venues
  • the event organiser (or contact person) must be ready to present the COVID-19 Safety Plan to a police officer, WorkSafe Tasmania officer or other officer on request
  • everyone at an event or venue must keep at least 1.5 metres between themselves and other people, when they can
  • information must be collected to support rapid contact tracing if required (operators are encouraged to use the Check-in TAS app)
  • other conditions may be imposed through the assessment and approval process.

This information is for community supporting events. It does not include events at large outdoor stadiums and outdoor arenas.

Gathering limits are determined by the density of the area, up to a maximum of:

  • 250 people for an undivided space in an indoor premises; and
  • 1,000 people in the outdoor space of a premises.

Maximum density limit is one person per 2 square metres.

Where the number of people permitted according to the density limit is less than the gathering limit, the lower number applies.

For sporting and recreation facilities with multiple indoor spaces, the gathering cap applies separately to each single undivided indoor space. For example, a multi-purpose sporting venue with multiple, separate, undivided indoor spaces, could have up to 250 people in each of these spaces (the density limit applies). However, the maximum of 1,000 people outdoors of a premises at one time, applies regardless of whether there are multiple outdoor areas.

The maximum number of people permitted on a premises includes coaches, athletes, staff, volunteers, children and babies.

Where practicable, attendees should maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from other people.

Sporting activities permitted based on Level C of the AIS Framework for Rebooting Sport, meaning the following are permitted:

  • full contact training
  • full competition sport (contact and non-contact)
  • sharing of equipment where necessary
  • use of change rooms and other shared facilities.

Larger teams should consider maintaining some small group separation at training and non-essential social gatherings should be limited.

Gathering limits and the requirement to maintain physical distancing where practical applies to all sports, exercise and recreation.

Read more about Sport and recreation.

Gatherings at residential premises – including shacks – are limited to up to 100 people (including children and babies) at any one time. This limit includes all residents of the household and the people who ordinarily reside at the house or shack.

The household gathering limit of 100 people applies whether the gathering is indoors or outdoors, and for all types of gatherings, including barbecues and celebrations.

You should not visit others or have visitors to your home if you are unwell.

Churches, places of worship and funeral homes can now have more people in attendance under changes to Public Health Directions: Management of Premises - No 11 and Mass Gatherings - No 3.

This brings these venues into line with other venues, such as cinemas, theatres and other entertainment premises.

Indoor gatherings with fixed seating

Gatherings at churches, places of worship and funeral homes that have fixed seating, may now accommodate up to 250 people or 75 per cent of their seating capacity in an indoor space, whichever is fewer.

Staff, clergy, church attendants, choir members and anyone assisting with the provision of a church service or funeral service are not included in the 250-person limit.

Operators of these venues may also apply under the Events Framework to increase patron numbers above 250 people by registering with Business Tasmania.

At indoor events with seating where the number of people attending will exceed 250 and people will be seated most of the time, the maximum number of attendees may be up to 75 per cent of seating capacity.

If having these larger numbers of people at a venue will mean the density limit will be exceeded (more than one person per two square metres of available space), venues will either need to lower the seating capacity or have attendees wear a face mask, unless exempt. People performing the service are not required to wear face masks in these circumstances.

Venues still require a COVID-19 Safety Plan, and contact tracing must be supported through use of the Check In TAS app (Check in Tas registration and use must be in place by 1 May 2021). If an attendee cannot use this app, they may be checked in through the app by another attendee on their behalf, or by the gathering organiser recording the attendee's details through the venue's device, or on a paper-based record.

To keep the risk low at gatherings

  • There must be a COVID contact person for every service or premises
  • A COVID-19 Safety Plan must be developed and implemented at all services and premises
  • The service organiser (or COVID contact person) must be ready to present the COVID-19 Safety Plan to a police officer, WorkSafe Tasmania officer or another officer immediately upon request
  • where practicable, everyone must keep at least 1.5 metres between themselves and other people
  • Information must be collected to support rapid contact tracing if required through the Check in TAS app which is mandatory from 1 May 2021.

When do face masks need to be worn?

Depending on the number of people present and the amount of space available, people attending indoor gatherings at churches, places of worship and funeral homes may be required to wear face masks (or fitted face coverings) that cover the nose and mouth, unless they are exempt.

The person responsible for the event or venue may instruct you to wear a face mask, so it’s a good idea to be prepared. Ask the organiser in advance if you will need to wear a face mask or take one with you just in case.

Those who are exempt from wearing a face mask are:

  • people performing at the service
  • people under the age of 12 years
  • anyone with a medical certificate from a medical practitioner confirming that wearing a face mask is unsuitable.

There are times when the face mask can be removed, including:

  • to talk with someone who is deaf or has impaired hearing, if visibility of the mouth is essential for communication
  • to communicate clearly as part of a person’s job or training
  • to eat or drink.

In these situations, the person must put their face mask back on as soon as they can.

How can I find out more?

To find out more:

Standing activities

Standing activities – like darts, pool, eight-ball, snooker and karaoke – are allowed in licensed venues.

Standing and drinking alcohol and/or dancing is permitted in premises with a liquor licence or liquor permit up to a maximum of 100 people in indoor spaces and 250 people in outdoor spaces, within current density requirements.

Patrons in other parts of the premises or event can also consume alcohol while sitting down, subject to density requirements.

For example, a venue with a maximum density capacity of 200 can have 100 people dancing, however the other 100 people must be seated to be drinking alcohol.

The management of risk associated with these activities must also be covered in a venue’s COVID-19 Safety Plan.

If someone hires a venue, such as a community hall, they share with the venue owner/operator the responsibility for managing dance and other activities, including physical distancing and facilitating a safe entry and exit to the premises.

A wide range of businesses and venues, including restaurants, cafes and other retail food businesses where food is sold for consumption on-site, as well as businesses that serve alcohol for consumption on-site, must collect contact details for people who enter and remain on the premises for at least 15 minutes.

For more information see “Compulsory recording of contact details” under “Business”.

Number of guests at weddings

Churches and commercial premises

The number of people permitted at a wedding at a church, commercial or a public venue (including a public park) is determined by the size of the venue and the current density limits that apply to all venues.

The maximum number of people permitted is one person per two square metres, up to a limit of 250 people for indoor venues and 1 000 people for outdoor venues.

These numbers include all persons (including children and babies) present at the wedding, including the bridal party, celebrant, guests, photographers, caterers, musicians and drivers.

Residential premises

Up to a total of 100 people (including children and babies) are permitted to gather at a residential premises, including for weddings.

This cap of 100 persons includes the people who normally live at the house, as well as the bridal party, celebrant, guests, photographers, caterers, musicians and driver.

The limit of 100 people still applies if the wedding is held on a large private property, farm or block of land that also includes a residential premises, unless the part of the property that the wedding is being held is, as part of its normal operations for the provision of services at that property, is normally used for weddings.

A wedding held in a barn on a property that forms part of a residential premise on acreage would still be limited to 100 people, including those who usually live there.

A farm is considered to be a residential premise if people live there. However, if part of that farm is primarily used for the sale or goods or the provision of services such as weddings, this part of the property can continue to operate in accordance with its normal operations.

Standing drinking of alcohol and dancing

There is no change to the maximum density limits of one person per two square metres up to a limit of 250 people in an indoor space and 1 000 people in an outdoor space of a non-residential premises, whichever is the lesser.

Up to a maximum total of 100 people in the indoor spaces of a premises and a total of up to a maximum 250 people in the outdoor spaces of a non-residential premises are permitted to stand while drinking alcohol and/or dance. All other people on the premises must be seated if they are drinking alcohol.

For example, a venue with an indoor maximum capacity of 200 people can have up to a total of 100 people standing to either drink alcohol and/or dance in the indoor spaces, however, the other 100 people must be seated if they are drinking alcohol. If the same venue also has an outdoor maximum capacity of 300 people, it can have up to a total of 250 people standing to either drink alcohol and/or dance in the outdoor spaces, however the other 50 people must be seated if they are drinking alcohol. If a premises, according to its maximum allowable density, can have up to 80 persons in the indoor spaces of the premises, all of these patrons may stand to consume alcohol or dance.

These caps apply to the entire indoor and outdoor spaces of a premises, regardless of whether there are multiple discrete spaces, such as separate outdoor courtyards. If alcohol is sold and/or consumed at the premises, the density calculation for the outdoor spaces of the premises must only take into account the outdoor space of the premises that is used by patrons of the premises.