The COVID-19 health pandemic has had a significant impact on our freedoms all over the world.
We understand that our people are particularly affected by these restrictions. However, this virus poses a very real and dangerous threat to our communities, particularly our elderly and persons with disability.
This health crisis has created a situation none of us are happy about and we can only hope that a collective approach to self-isolation is the best means to curb the spread of COVID-19 and more quickly put this period of 2020 behind us.
It is therefore timely to ensure everyone is aware of the new laws introduced this week by the NSW Government to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
These apply particularly to social gatherings and leaving the home.
Under the new rules you can only meet in groups of two and you can only leave your home to:
- Work, if you can’t work from home
- Attend school or an educational institution
- Shop for food and other essential items
- Receive medical care
- Exercise, but only if the exercise is done alone or with one other person
There are some exceptions to the rules, and the Government has issued a list of 14 ‘essential gatherings’ and 16 ‘reasonable excuses’ for leaving the home.
Restrictions on social gatherings do not apply to households and immediate family, moving house, fulfilling legal obligations, providing care to a vulnerable person or providing emergency assistance.
Police have the power to deliver on-the-spot fines of $1,000 to people breaking the rules. Courts can issue a maximum penalty of $11,000 and six months in jail.
Everyone needs to understand these rules to ensure their own well-being and the safety of their family and community. The full lists of essential gatherings and reasonable excuses for leaving the home has been provided below:
- Obtaining food or other goods or services for the personal needs of the household or other household purposes (including for pets) and for vulnerable persons
- Travelling for the purposes of work if the person cannot work from the person’s place of residence
- Travelling for the purposes of attending childcare (including picking up or dropping another person at childcare)
- Travelling for the purposes of facilitating attendance at a school or other educational institution if the person attending the school or institution cannot learn from the person’s place of residence
- Obtaining medical care or supplies or health supplies or fulfilling carer’s responsibilities
- Attending a wedding (maximum 5 people) or a funeral (maximum 10 people)
- Moving to a new place of residence (including a business moving to new premises) or between different places of residence of the person or inspecting a potential new place of residence
- Providing care or assistance (including personal care) to a vulnerable person or providing emergency assistance
- Donating blood
- Undertaking any legal obligations
- Accessing public services (whether provided by Government, a private provider or a non-Government organisation), including:
- social services, and
- employment services, and
- domestic violence services, and
- mental health services, and
- services provided to victims (including as victims of crime)
- For children who do not live in the same household as their parents or siblings or one of their parents or siblings–continuing existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children or siblings
- For a person who is a priest, minister of religion or member of a religious order going to the person’s place of worship or providing pastoral care to another person
- Avoiding injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm
- For emergencies or compassionate reasons
- A gathering at an airport that is necessary for the normal business of the airport
- A gathering for the purposes of or related to transportation, including in vehicles or at stations, platforms or stops or other public transportation facilities
- A gathering at a hospital or other medical or health service facility that is necessary for the normal business of the facility
- A gathering for the purposes of emergency services
- A gathering at a prison, correctional facility, youth justice centre or other place of custody
- A gathering at a disability or aged care facility that is necessary for the normal business of the facility
- A gathering at a court or tribunal
- A gathering at Parliament for the purpose of its normal operations
- A gathering at a supermarket, market that predominately sells food, grocery store or shopping centre (but not a retail store in a shopping centre other than a supermarket, market that predominately sells food or grocery store) that is necessary for the normal business of the supermarket, market, store or centre
- A gathering at a retail store (other than a supermarket, market that predominately sells food or grocery store) that is necessary for the normal business of the store
- A gathering at an office building, farm, factory, warehouse or mining or construction site that is necessary for the normal operation of the tenants within the building, farm, warehouse, factory or site
- A gathering at a school, university or other educational institution or child care facility that is necessary for the normal business of the school, university, institution or facility but does not include a school event that involves members of the community in addition to staff and students
- A gathering at a hotel, motel or other accommodation facility that is necessary for the normal operation of accommodation services at that hotel, motel or other facility
- A gathering at an outdoor space where 2 or more persons may be present for the purposes of transiting through the place, e.g. an outdoor shopping mall