The COVID Law Monitor project covers changes in legislation, directives and emergencies powers that affect civil liberties and freedoms of people in Australia across all jurisdictions. There have been significant changes in legislation and policy in other areas such as social security, taxation and economic management and industry, and while important, these changes fall out of scope of this project.


New and Amended New South Wales Laws 

 

Last update: 31 July 2020

Contents

1. Public Health Act 2010 (NSW)

1.1 Background

1.2 Orders under the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW)

1.3 Penalties

2. COVID-19 Legislation Amendment Acts

2.1 COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures—Miscellaneous) Act 2020

2.2 COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures—Treasurer) Act 2020

2.3 COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures—Attorney General) Act 2020

3. Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999 (NSW)

4. Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW)

 


1. Public Health Act 2010 (NSW)

1.1 Background

The COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Act No 1 2020 (NSW) amended the Public Health Act 2010 No 127 (NSW).

The power to make Directions is found under sections 7 and 8 of the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW), where the Minister considers on reasonable grounds that a Direction is necessary to deal with a public health risk, or where a state of emergency has been declared.  Directions are made by way of public health order.

The NSW amending legislation amends the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) to the following effect:

- Public health orders of indefinite length may be made:  The amendments allow public health orders of any length to be made in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic generally, and additionally in relation to people who are at risk of contracting COVID-19.  Previously, a public health order would ordinarily expire at the end of 3 business days unless confirmed by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

- Police may arrest persons who contravene COVID-19 public health orders without a warrant:  Police can arrest a person suspected on reasonable grounds to be contravening a COVID-19 related public health order.  Once arrested, the person may be returned to their home or usual residence, a place specified in the public health order, or their place of detention if the person is a public health detainee.  Previously, Police were required to obtain an arrest warrant after obtaining a certificate from an authorised medical practitioner confirming that the person was breaching a public health order. 

- Police may demand name and address of specified persons:  The Police may direct a person suspected of contravening a public health order or the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW), or a person who is apparently in charge of premises where such a contravention is occurring or evidently has occurred, to provide their full name and address.  Previously, only ‘authorised officers’ under the Act had such powers. 

The amendments are temporary, and will expire 12 months from commencement, on 25 March 2021. 

1.2 Orders under the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW)

The following relevant public health orders are in force:

Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 4) 2020: The object of this Order is to revoke and remake the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 3) 2020 to ease certain restrictions. The order allows cultural and sporting events at outdoor venues with a maximum capacity of 40,000 to hold events at up to 25 percent of their normal capacity. There are greater restrictions on pubs, requiring they register their COVID-19 Safety Plan with the NSW Government and can only have 300 persons or one person per 4 square metres of space in the premises. Individual groups in a pub can only have a maximum of 10 people.

Public Health (COVID-19 Self Isolation) Order (No 3): This order repeals the  Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order (No 2) 2020. Under this order, close contacts of persons diagnosed with COVID-19 must self-isolate for the period of time, not exceeding 14 days, as determined by an authorised contact tracer.

Public Health (COVID-19 Air Transportation Quarantine) Order (No 2) 2020: The object of this Order is to deal with the public health risk of COVID-19 and its possible consequences by giving a Ministerial direction that a person who arrives in New South Wales by aircraft and has been in a country other than Australia within 14 days before that arrival must undertake mandatory quarantine for a period of 14 days. The Order makes a different direction for the flight crew of aircraft allowing those persons to quarantine at their residence or accommodation before departing from New South Wales by aircraft.

Public Health (COVID-19 Maritime Quarantine) Order (No 2) 2020: The object of this Order is to deal with the public health risk of COVID-19 and its possible consequences by giving a Ministerial direction that a person who arrives in New South Wales by maritime vessel must undertake mandatory quarantine for a period of 14 days.

Public Health (COVID-19 Aged Care Facilities) Order (No 2) 2020: This order restricts persons entering or remaining on the premises of residential aged care facilities for 90 days. It directs that a person cannot enter a residential aged care facility, except for specified persons such as employees or contractors of the facility. Specified persons may enter a facility for prescribed purposes only, such as providing health or pharmaceutical services.

Public Health (COVID-19 Lord Howe Island) Order 2020: which restricts access to Lord Howe Island to residents of the Island and persons required to enter the Island to provide or support the provision of health services and other essential services to the Island. Non-residents leaving the Island and aircraft and ship personnel are exempt from this Order. Any person that arrives on the Island must travel straight to premises suitable for them to quarantine in. Note that this Order is set to be repealed on 18 June 2020. 

Public Health Amendment (COVID-19 Spitting and Coughing) Regulation (No 2) 2020: The object of this Regulation is to allow for the issue of penalty notices for an offence against section 10 of the Public Health Act 2010 involving a contravention of a Ministerial direction under the Public Health (COVID-19 Spitting and Coughing) Order (No 2) 2020 about intentionally spitting or coughing on a public official or other worker in a way that is likely to cause fear about the spread of COVID-19.

Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Amendment (Real Estate) Order 2020: The amendment order amends the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020 to enable persons to gather at premises that is real property to view or inspect the premises for the purposes of the sale or lease of the premises; to enable persons to gather at display homes or display premises to view or inspect the display homes or display premises for the purposes of the sale or lease of real property; to enable persons to gather at premises for the purposes of conducting an auction of real property, and to provide that it is a reasonable excuse for a person to leave the person’s place of residence to inspect a potential new place of business, a potential investment property, a display home or other display premises or attend an auction of real property.

Public Health (COVID-19 Interstate Hotspots) Order 2020: This order came into force on 2 July. The object of this Order is to deal with the public health risk of COVID-19 and its possible consequences by giving a number of Ministerial directions in respect of persons who have been in certain COVID-19 hotspots in Victoria within the previous 14 days. Such persons must, immediately on entering NSW, travel directly to their place of residence or another place that is suitable for the person to reside in. They must remain there until 14 days have passed since they were in a COVID-19 hotspot. The order does not apply to a person who transits through a hotspot by road or rail, provided the person does not exit the vehicle or train they’re travelling in while in the hotspot. The list was further amended on 6 July 2020 to add a list of local government areas to schedule 1 (COVID-19 hotspots) rather than postcodes (as in previous direction).

Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Order 2020: The object of this Order is to restrict entry into New South Wales of persons who have been in Victoria within the previous 14 days before entry. Section 10 of the Public Health Act 2010 creates an offence if an individual fails to comply with a direction with a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 6 months or a fine of up to $11,000 (or both) plus a further $5,500 fine each day the offence continues. Corporations that fail to comply with a direction are liable to a fine of $55,000 and $27,500 each day the offence continues. The Public Health Regulation 2012 also enables authorised officers to issue penalty notices for offences against clause 6 by individuals for an amount of $4,000 and $1,000 in other cases.The order includes a new category of persons who have authority to enter NSW (item 10AA in Schedule 1).  This category consists of returning NSW residents who had to enter VIC for medical or hospital services (except in emergency situations).

1.3 Penalties

Under the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW), for breaching a Ministerial Direction or public health order:

- an individual is liable if found guilty for a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 6 months or a fine of up to $11,000 (or both) plus a further $5,500 fine for each day the offence continues; and

- a corporation is liable to a fine of $55,000 and $27,500 for each day the offence continues.


2. COVID-19 Legislation Amendment Acts

2.1 COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures—Miscellaneous) Act 2020

The COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures - Miscellaneous) Act 2020 Act amends a broad range of legislation to implement further emergency measures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2.2 COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures—Treasurer) Act 2020

The COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures - Treasurer) Act 2020 amends legislation administered by the Treasurer to implement further emergency measures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2.3 COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures—Attorney General) Act 2020

The COVID -19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures - Attorney General) Act 2020 amends a number of Acts administered by the Attorney General to implement further emergency measures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

3. Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999 (NSW)

New regulations have been introduced in response to COVID-19:

Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Amendment (COVID-19) Regulation 2020: which amends the Amendment of Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Regulation 2014 to allow inmates who are deemed as having a higher health risk (due to an existing medical condition or vulnerability) or whose earliest possible release date is within 12 months to be eligible for release on parole by the Commissioner. 

 

4. Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW)

New regulations have been introduced in response to COVID-19:

Environmental Planning and Assessment (COVID-19 Development - Health Services Facilities) Order 2020: which directs that designated buildings or places can be used as health service premises. Also allows for health services facilities currently under construction to be completed sooner.

 


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For people who have an experience with the policing of covid measures you would like to report you can do so at this website: covidpolicing.org.au. You can find suggestions for legal support here