COVID-19 restrictions and early childhood

To slow the spread of COVID-19, state and territory governments may impose restrictions on local communities. This may affect how child care is delivered. This page provides information on Australian Government measures to support the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector in restricted areas.

We strongly encourage services to stay informed about the situation in their area, and the impact on their operations, from official government sources and websites.

On this page:

National

Use the COVID-19 restriction checker to find out about restrictions in your state or territory.

This resource is administered by the Australian Government Department of Health.

Queensland

On 29 March, the Queensland Government announced a three-day period of restrictions for the Greater Brisbane area starting at 5pm 29 March.

During this time, schools and child care centres will remain open for vulnerable children and the children of essential workers.

At this stage there is no change to fee charging and or allowable absences. 

We’ll continue to monitor the situation, including public health orders issued by the Queensland Government.

More details can be found on the following local websites:

Victoria

On 12 February, the Victorian Government announced a state-wide five-day lockdown. Restrictions started at 11:59pm Friday 12 February and ended at 11:59pm Wednesday 17 February.

Child care services remained open during the lockdown. Outside School Hours Care services resumed on-site operations for all students on Thursday 18 February.

Absences

In response to the second wave lockdown in Victoria, all children attending Victorian services have an additional 45 days of allowable absences. These are in addition to the existing 42 days for the 2020–21 financial year.

The additional absences have been applied to families’ accounts automatically. Services can access them as they usually would when submitting session reports.

Face masks

The Victorian Government has the following guidance regarding face masks in early childhood: 

  • People aged 12 and over must wear a fitted face mask when in public, unless there is a lawful reason not to.
  • Staff are not required to wear face masks while educating or caring, but those who wish to do so can.
  • Staff must wear face masks when not educating or caring.
  • Visitors to services must also wear face masks. This includes parents and carers. 

Learn more about Victoria’s COVIDSafe Summer

Western Australia

In late January 2021, the Western Australian Government implemented a period of restrictions for the Perth metro, Peel and South West regions due to a positive COVID-19 case in a hotel quarantine worker.

Restrictions started at 6pm 31 January and ran until 6pm 5 February 2021. Child care and outside school hours services remained open for the children of essential workers.

Learn more about COVID-19 in Western Australia 

New South Wales

In December 2020, the NSW Government introduced restrictions across Sydney in response to the evolving COVID-19 situation.

In response, we declared a Local Area Emergency for child care services in the Northern Beaches Local Government Area (LGA) of Sydney from 21 December 2020 until 11:59pm 10 January 2021.

The declaration enabled Child Care Subsidy to continue to be available as it entitles families to additional absence days if their child has used their 42 absence days.

Learn more about COVID-19 in NSW

South Australia

On 18 November 2020, the South Australian Government announced a short period of restrictions due to COVID-19. 

For two days – Thursday 19 and Friday 20 November – child care services were only open for children of essential workers and vulnerable children.

These restrictions were lifted on 22 November and child care services in South Australia were able to return to business as usual.

Learn more about COVID-19 in South Australia

Questions and answers

Business viability

If my service is closed due to COVID-19, can I increase the hours of care set out in a child’s enrolment to increase my CCS income?

The department would view such arrangements as an attempt to defraud the Commonwealth on the part of both the provider and the family.

It is entering a contract for service that cannot be honoured with the intent of increasing income from the Australian Government.

Any allegations that a provider is entering into such arrangements would be investigated by the department and compliance action, including potential criminal prosecution for fraud, will be taken. 

Are the Government support payments (i.e. Transition Payment, Additional Viability Support Payment etc.) counted as income?

All Commonwealth grants need to be recorded as income. However, the following payments are exempt from Goods and Services Tax:

  • Transition Payment
  • Special Transition Payment
  • Additional Viability Support Payment

Border restrictions

What about access to child care in jurisdictions where there are cross-border complications and other issues?

Families and services should seek information from their respective state and territory governments.
Here are some helpful links by jurisdiction:

More information

Providers and services can email ccshelpdesk@dese.gov.au or call 1300 667 276.
Parents looking for care can search Child Care Finder.