Understanding 'Essential Businesses'

There has been a lot of confusion amongst Queensland’s business community surrounding the definition of an ‘essential business service.’
This follows a number of changes in the businesses allowed to remain open as the COVID-19 event transpires.

As of 25 March 2020, the public health direction referred to as the ‘Non-essential Business Closure Direction’ was updated to include a number of additional commercial activities. This is in addition to the rules in place banning non-essential indoor and outdoor gatherings.

While there is no clear-cut definition of what an essential business service is, there has been a comprehensive list of activities that must remain shut. For some businesses, certain exceptions may exist allowing them to remain open.

It is important to note, however, that all businesses are advised to implement appropriate hygiene measures and social distancing of 1.5 meters.
Failing to comply with the health direction carries a maximum penalty of 100 penalty units, or $13,345.

If your business isn’t listed below then you can continue to operate, while adhering to Queensland Health social distancing requirements.


As of the 31 March 2020, non-essential business activities include:

Strictly non-essential business activities (to remain closed until further notice)
Business, Activity, Undertaking, Premises or Place Exemptions
Strictly non-essential 
Auction houses N/A
Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing and nail salons, and tattoo parlours 
Casinos, gaming or gambling venues
Strip clubs, brothels and sex on premises venues
Theme parks, amusement parks and arcades
Play centres (indoor and outdoor)
Indoor sporting centres, including gyms, health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre and spin facilities, saunas, bathhouses and wellness centres
Galleries, museums, national and state institutions and historic sites
Local government non-essential facilities and services (such as libraries and pools


Non-Essential Business Activities with Exceptions
Business, Activity, Undertaking, Premises or PlaceExemptions
Strictly non-essential 
Retail food and drink services 
  • Takeaway
  • Workplace canteens
  • Food or drink services at reasonably necessary facilities 
Real estate auctions and open house inspections 
  • Private appointments only for inspections
Outdoor and indoor markets
  • Food and farmer markets may continue
Licenced armourers and licenced dealers 
  • A licence armourer, dealer or authority holder may store, service, manufacture or supply weaponry for:
    • Military, defence or security organisations
  • Licenced operators may also continue selling non-weaponry goods
Hairdressers and barbershops 
  • Requiring 4 square meters per person
Spas and massage parlours 
  • Health services provided by registered health practitioners
Registered and licenced clubs, licensed premises in hotels
  • Bottle shops and off licence premises attached to venues
  • Outdoor sporting-based activities limited to two people
Concert venues, theatres, arenas, auditoriums, stadiums
  • Live streaming of a performance by no more than 2 people is permissible
Boot camps, personal training 
  • Limited to one-on-one training with a single personal trainer (outdoors)
Social sporting-based activities
  • Limited to two people
Swimming pools including public pools and pools in shared facilities such as hotels and apartments
  • A private swimming pool on a residential dwelling 
Hostels, bed and breakfasts, backpackers and boarding houses
  • Continue for permanent or temporary residents and workers of the facility 
  • Limit of two people in common and outdoor areas where there are more than four square metres of space 
Zoos and wildlife centres
  • Strictly for the maintenance and care of the animals 
Libraries, community centres, and youth centres
  • Community hubs in remote communities that are essential for distributing medical and educational services
  • Community facilities that provide formal out of school hour care 
Places of worship, weddings and funerals
  • Weddings with a maximum attendance of five including the celebrant, married couple and witnesses where there are at least 4 square meters of space per person
  • Funerals with a maximum attendance of 10 people where there is at least four square meters of space per person
  • Exemptions granted by the Chief Health Officer
Strip clubs, brothels, sex on premises venues and sole operator sex workers
  • Sole operator sex workers may continue to provide online or phone services.
    Example – video streaming or phone chat services

 Caravan and camping parks
  • Where people live permanently in caravan parks or are staying in caravan parks as interim abodes where their primary residence is not available.
    May continue to operate for essential workers such as health practitioners or other persons providing essential services.

CCIQ acknowledges that there may be more specific classifications handed down to business sectors. You should always follow the direction of the State Government and get in contact with Queensland Health if you have any uncertainties.

Further information on non-essential business services can be found:

  • Queensland Health website - here

Become a member