Diwali in Australia: What you can and cannot do with COVID-19 restrictions

Family and Diwali lamps Diwali – a festival observed by Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains is celebrated on November 14, 2020, across Australia. Large scale events are cancelled; different Covid-safe Diwali to be celebrated this year. Restrictions and rules differ in all states and territories. One of the most visible Hindu festivals in the calendar, Diwali will be celebrated this weekend but with COVID-19 related restrictions in place, here’s what you can and cannot do.

Diwali, the festival of lights, will be celebrated across the world and in Australia this Saturday on November 14, 2020.

One of the most important and widely-celebrated festivals by Hindus is generally celebrated over a week with a range of traditional rituals, celebrations and events. Celebrating the festival with your large extended family and friends is one of the most significant parts of the celebrations. However, with restrictions on gatherings due to COVID-19 pandemic, Diwali will be different this year in Australia.

So what is allowed and what is not? Can we go see friends? Can we invite people over for Diwali dinner? How many? Questions galore and so here’s what you can do this Diwali and what you aren’t allowed to do, state-wise.

New South Wales

Opera House lit up for Diwali
NSW is allowing you to have guests over but there’s a limit.

Up to 20 visitors can visit another household at any one time. This number of visitors includes adults and children but the member of the household is not counted as a visitor.

There is no daily limit to visitors to your home, so long as you do not have more than 20 visitors at any one time.

An overnight stay as part of a visit to someone’s house too is allowed.

Though those over 70 have been advised to be cautious.

“If you are over 70 or have a pre-existing medical condition, you should limit the number of visitors and take care at all times,” the NSW government advises.

Outside, under the public health order, there are restrictions on people from different households meeting up together in a public place.

“No more than 30 people can gather outside in a public place which includes public parks, reserves, beaches, public gardens and spaces,” the NSW government advises.

Under the order, a public gathering means a meeting or assembly of persons for a common purpose in a public place.

If you plan to go out for a meal with family and friends, a maximum of 30 people can make a group booking and 30 people can book a table at a hospitality venue, which includes casinos, food and drink premises, micro-breweries, small distilleries, pubs, registered clubs and small bars.


Diwali at Federation Square
After the second wave, lockdown and curfew have been lifted in Victoria. However, several restrictions on home visits and gatherings in public remain.

You can have up to two people visit your home where infants under 12 months are not included in this cap. Other dependents can also attend if they cannot be left unattended or cared for in another setting.

These two people can be from different households and may visit separately. Your intimate partner is not included in the cap.

Outdoor gatherings in a public place are limited to up to 10 people, infants under 12 months are not included in this cap.

A public place means an area that everyone can access, for example, a local park or the beach.

However, more people can come together for a meal at cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants.

Up to 70 people can be seated outdoors and up to 40 people indoors at hospitality venues.


Divya lamps at Diwali
In the sunshine state, you can have a maximum of 40 people in your home including the members of your household.

You can have your family and friends over but remember this limit of 40 includes those who reside with you as well as children and infants.

Outside too, gatherings in public spaces are limited to a maximum of 40 people within one group.

Individuals are not permitted to organise mass gatherings in a public space.

The state government’s advice is, “We ask that Queenslanders use common sense and good judgement, including maintaining plenty of distance between groups.”

Western Australia

Divya lamp at Diwali
The good news for those celebrating Diwali in Western Australia (WA) is there are no limits to the number of people that can gather indoors or outdoors but WA is following the 2 sqm rule.

The 2 sqm rule means the total number of people at a gathering can’t exceed more than 1 person per 2 square metres. For example, a venue can only hold a maximum of 100 people if it spans 200 square metres.

Remember this includes children.

WA government’s simple advice is, “Everyone is encouraged to continue to practice physical distancing and good personal hygiene.”

South Australia

Happy Diwali - Adelaide
In South Australia, you can have up to 50 people at your private residence.

Gatherings at a private place (other than a private residence) are restricted to no more than 150 people.

Outdoors, the 2 sqm rule applies which means the total number of people at a place must not exceed 1 person per 2 square metres.

“Physical distancing or social distancing principles apply. Every person should attempt to stay at least 1.5 metres from other members of the public,” the SA government advises.


Diwali in Hobart
Household gathering restrictions are changing in Tasmania from this Friday, November 13, 2020.

A maximum of 40 people (in addition to the people who live at the premises) will be permitted at household gatherings from this date.

Until Friday or November 13, restriction of 20 visitors remains in place.

Outdoors, the 2 sqm rule applies which means the total number of people at a place must not exceed 1 person per 2 square metres.

However, this is restricted to up to a maximum of 250 people for an undivided space in an indoor premise and 1,000 people in the outdoor space of premises.

The Tasmanian government advises, “You should continue to maintain physical distancing at all times when you are out (staying at least 1.5 metres from other people), wash your hands regularly and cover coughs and sneezes. You should not visit others or have visitors to your home if you are unwell.”

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Divya lamps for Diwali in Canberra
If you live in the ACT, you can have as many guests as you like.

There is no limit on household gatherings in the ACT.

Outdoors, in places such as restaurants and cafes, with total usable space between 101 and 200 square metres can have a maximum of 50 people throughout the venue. So a large group can head together for a meal.

ACT government’s simple recommendation is, “We must maintain our best lines of defence against the disease by physically distancing, practising good hand and respiratory hygiene, staying home if unwell and getting tested if you have symptoms.”

Northern Territory

Diwali at the Masonic Hall, Darwin
Northern Territory (NT) has relatively enjoyed a Covid-free atmosphere for quite a few months now and there are no restrictions on household gatherings or outdoor gatherings in the territory.

The good news is almost all entertainment and hospitality venues such as restaurants, cafes, bars, cinemas, theatres, stadiums, zoos and amusement parks, are open in the Territory.

“There’s no limit to how many people can gather indoors or outdoors — but you should keep 1.5 metres from people you don’t live with,” advises the NT government.

Now that you know what you can and can’t do this Diwali, hope you all have a safe, Covid-free Diwali!


Diwali Indian family
Diwali, the festival of lights, one of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar, will be celebrated on November 14, Saturday across the world. Getty Images/India Picture

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