Is it illegal to open on Good Friday in Australia?

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In Australia, Good Friday is observed as a public holiday across all states and territories, and it has specific trading restrictions associated with it. This article explores the legality of businesses operating on this solemn day.

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National Overview

Public Holiday Status

Good Friday is recognised as a public holiday under the National Employment Standards (NES), which means there are certain restrictions on trading and business operations.

State and Territory Legislation

Variations Across the Country

Each state and territory in Australia has its own set of regulations governing what businesses can open on Good Friday. The rules are often detailed in the respective state’s Shop Trading Acts or Public Holidays Acts.

Common Restrictions

Types of Businesses Affected

Generally, large retail stores, shopping centres, and some hospitality venues are required to remain closed on Good Friday. Exemptions are typically granted to smaller businesses, such as convenience stores, fish and chip shops, and restaurants, though conditions may apply.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Businesses that open in violation of these laws may face substantial fines. The enforcement of these laws is typically the responsibility of the state’s fair trading or consumer affairs departments.

State-by-State Breakdown

New South Wales

In NSW, the Retail Trading Act 2008 dictates that only exempted businesses can trade on Good Friday.


Victoria’s Public Holidays Act 1993 and Shop Trading Reform Act 1996 outline similar restrictions, with some regional variances.


The Holiday Act 1983 in Queensland stipulates the conditions under which trade can occur on public holidays, including Good Friday.

South Australia

South Australia’s Shop Trading Hours Act 1977 is particularly strict, with Adelaide CBD having different rules to the rest of the state.

Western Australia

In WA, the Retail Trading Hours Act 1987 governs trading on Good Friday, with certain tourist precincts being granted exceptions.

Tasmania, Northern Territory, and Australian Capital Territory

These jurisdictions have their own specific regulations, but they generally follow the trend of restricting trade on Good Friday.

Cultural and Social Considerations

The Significance of Good Friday

Good Friday is a significant day in the Christian calendar, and the trading restrictions reflect the cultural and religious observance of the day.

In Australia, it is typically illegal for certain businesses to operate on Good Friday, with laws varying by state and territory. Business owners must be aware of their local regulations to avoid penalties.


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