The NSW Government passed the COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (emergency Measures) Bill 2020, in response to the unprecedented times that the country and world are facing.

There is some confusion surrounding what the legislation means for society noting the importance of isolation and social distancing in these times. We at Adams & Partners Lawyers understand the importance of clarity in these difficult times so we have provided a breakdown of what the legislation means.

In summary, the legislation outlines:

  • A person must not, without reasonable excuse, leave the person’s place of residence.” Understandably there are circumstances where a person will have to leave their home, the Order includes what is considered a “reasonable excuse”, they are:
  1. Obtaining food or other goods and services;
  2. Travelling for the purposes of work or education if the person cannot do it at home;
  3. Exercise;
  4. Medical or caring reasons;

It is important to note that the Order also directs what is allowed with respect of people gathering in public. The Order details:

  • “A person must not participate in a gathering in a public place of more than 2 persons.” Although limited, there are exceptions to this which are as follows
  1. Gatherings of members of the same household
  2. Gatherings essential for work or education.

Most importantly, Section 10 of the Public Health Act 2020, creates an offence for an individual or company failing to comply with either Direction without an exception being satisfied. The penalty of which is significant:

  1. Individuals: Up to 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $11,000. A further $5,500 fine each day the offence continues;
  2. Corporations: A fine of $55,000. A further $27,500 fine each day the offence continues

If a person is charged with one of these offences there is a number of options for recourse such as appeal the fine in Court on the basis that you have not committed the offence due to there being an exception satisfied, or to lessen the severity of the fine itself.

If you have any questions with respect of the effect of the new legislation or are charged with these new offences contact our office today.

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