- Today, new directions come into force relating to COVID-19.
- There are additional closures of certain facilities and bans on certain activities. However, the ban announced on hairdressers and barbers has been lifted.
- Strict self-isolation orders are in place for anyone diagnosed with COVID-19.
- It is a criminal offence in NSW to fail to comply with these directions. A maximum penalty of 6 months’ imprisonment is applicable.
Under the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW), the NSW Minister for Health and Medical Research, Brad Hazzard, has the power to give directions that the Minister considers necessary to deal with a public health risk.
Failure to comply with directions can lead to a prison
sentence of up to 6 months.
Using the powers under this act, the NSW government has been
co-operating with the federal government to implement nation-wide policies in
response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today (26 March 2020), two new directions came into force at
midnight, replacing the previous directions and adding further restrictions. The
current directions are now as follows:
Public Health (COVID-19 Gatherings) Order (No 2) 2020
- Gatherings of 500 or more people outdoors and
gatherings of 100 or more people indoors are not permitted. A person is not to
organise such a gathering or attend such a gathering, and an occupier or
operator of premises is not to allow such a gathering to occur.
- Gatherings of less than 500 people outdoors or less
than 100 people indoors are also not permitted unless there is sufficient space
to ensure there is 4 square metres of space for each person on the premises.
- The 4-square-metre rule for gatherings under the
500 or 100 person limit does not apply to gatherings at a person’s place of
residence or to the exempted “essential gatherings”. The following is a list of
- Hospital and health services;
- Disability or aged care facilities;
- Correctional and custodial facilities;
- Supermarkets, food markets, grocery stores and shopping
- Offices, factories, mining and construction
- Schools, universities, educational institutions
and child care centres (excluding school events);
- Hotels and other accommodation facilities; and
- Outdoor spaces where 500 or more persons may be
present to transition through the place.
- Note that from 26 March 2020, retail stores are
no longer exempted from the 4-square-metre rule for gatherings.
- The following facilities must not be open to
members of the public (with some exceptions):
- Pubs and registered clubs;
- Other food and drink premises;
- Entertainment facilities (theatres, cinemas,
concert halls etc);
- Micro-breweries or small distilleries;
- Indoor recreation facilities (gyms, pools,
bowling alleys, ice rinks, squash courts);
- Places of public worship (except for weddings
with no more than 5 people and funerals with no more than 10 people);
- Spas, nail salons, beauty salons, waxing salons,
tanning salons, tattoo parlours and massage parlours;
- Auction houses and betting agencies;
- Non-food related markets;
- Information and education facilities (art
galleries, museums, libraries, visitor information centres);
- Caravan parks and camping grounds (except for
permanent residents of the park or those who have no other place of residence,
and their visitors);
- Community facilities (government or non-profit
organisations for community welfare); and
- Restaurants and other venues are still permitted
to sell takeaway food and drink and to provide hotel/motel accommodation.
- The closure of barber shops and hairdressers has
- Additionally, a person must also not do the
- Conduct an open house (single party inspections
by appointment are exempted);
- Conduct an auction in person (except livestock
auctions for food supply);
- Conduct or participate in a fitness class or
personal training (unless it is outside and no more than 10 people are present);
- Participate in a social sport (unless outside
and no more than 10 people present).
Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order 2020
- From 26 March 2020, a person diagnosed with
COVID-19 who does not require hospitalisation must immediately travel to their
residence (or other place determined to be suitable by a health practitioner)
and must reside at that place until medically cleared.
- If determined by a health practitioner to be
necessary, a diagnosed person must travel directly to a hospital for
assessment. Upon discharge, the person must travel directly to their residence (or
other place determined to be suitable by a health practitioner) and reside
there until medically cleared.
- Until medically cleared, the diagnosed person
must not leave the residence except to obtain medical supplies or medical care,
or if there is an emergency situation.
- No other person is permitted to enter the
residence unless they live there, are also complying with a self-isolation direction,
or are attending for medical or emergency purposes.
- Food and essential items can still be delivered
to a place other than a person’s residence (e.g. to a hospital).
- The diagnosed person must also comply with the NSW
Health Self-Isolation Guidelines for Persons with COVID-19.
Other directions also remain in force relating to
Residential Aged Care Facilities.
The federal government has also imposed separate
restrictions for travel to and from Australia and self-isolation upon return,
which are subject to different rules and penalties under the Biosecurity Act
Criminal Offences and Penalties
It is a criminal offence to fail to comply with a NSW Ministerial direction without reasonable excuse.
Police have been given the power to hand out fines of $1,000 to individuals and $5,000 to businesses that breach public health orders or ministerial directions.
The maximum penalties for individuals include imprisonment
for 6 months and/or a fine of $11,000. For a continuing offence, a further fine
of up to $5,500 applies for each day the offence continues.
For a corporation, the maximum fine is $55,000 and in the
case of a continuing offence, a further fine of up to $27,500 for each day the
If you have questions about these new laws, or have been
charged with such an offence, please contact one of our criminal lawyers on
9025 9888 or by making a free online enquiry.
Photo by Melanie Shires