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 Queensland Laws


Last update: 1 July 2020


1. Public Health Act 2005 (Qld)

1.1 Background

1.2. Directions under the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld)

1.3 Freedom of Assembly 

1.4 Penalties

1.5 Emergency Powers under the Public Health Act 2005 (QLD)


1. Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) 

1.1 Background

The Public Health and Other Legislation (Public Health Emergency) Amendment Act 2020 (11 of 2020) (Qld), amended the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) , which is accessible here.  

The Directions made by the Chief Health Officer are made under the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) following a declaration by the Minister of a public health emergency due to COVID-19 made under section 319(2) of the Act.  

Once a public health emergency is declared, the Chief Executive may appoint emergency officers and emergency officers (medical) to exercise the powers listed Parts 6 and 7 of the Act.  The Chief Health Officer may also make Directions under Part 7A of the Act. 

The public health emergency currently expires on 17 August 2020 unless extended.

1.2 Directions under the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld)

The following Directions have been made by the Chief Health Officer and are currently in force:

Aged Care Direction (No. 5):This direction commenced on 2 June 2020, and revokes and replaces the Aged Care Direction (No. 4).  It directs that a person must not enter an aged care facility unless they are permitted under paragraph 5 of the direction. This includes persons that are present to provide care and support to the resident of the aged care facility, persons that are providing health or medical care, and people that are required to remain to provide end of life support. Exception to this is that persons with temperatures equal to or higher than 37.5 degrees (as opposed to 38 degrees) must not enter or remain on the premises of an aged care facility.

Border restrictions Direction (No. 5): Effective from 01 May 2020 - which directs that a person who arrives in Queensland from another State or Territory of Australia will not be allowed to enter Queensland, unless they are an exempt resident or exempt person. An exempt person or resident who arrives in Queensland must self-quarantine if they have been outside Australia in the last 14 days or in other specified circumstances. 

Corrective Services Facilities Direction (No. 2): Effective from 19 May 2020 it directs that  from Monday 23 March 2020, personal visits to Queensland prisons have stopped until the public health emergency for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has ended, or the direction has been cancelled or replaced.

Movement and Gathering Direction: Effective from 1 June 2020. This direction revokes and replaces the Home Confinement, Movement and Gathering Direction (No 6). The object of this direction is to ease restrictions. This direction makes the following changes: (a) a maximum of 20 people can gather publicly regardless of whether people are members of the same household or not (b) a residence may have up to 20 people including the members of the residents of the household.

Hospital Visitors Direction (No. 3): This replaces the Hospital Visitors Direction (No 2). It directs that each patient may have one visit per day for up to two hours, no more than two people per visit.  Up to two people may remain with a patient at all times and are not restricted to the two-hour time limit if they are: carers for children under the age of 18; carers for a patient with a disability; the partner and/or support person/s when the patient is admitted for care related to the pregnancy; or a support person for emergency department or outpatient care appointments.More than two visitors are allowed to provide end-of-life support to a patient. These visitors are also not restricted to the two-hour limit.

Local Government election and State by-elections Direction (No. 2): Effective from 27 March 2020 - which directs that voters attending a polling place must follow social distancing by keeping at least 1.5 metres from others, avoid handshaking and not linger or gather around a polling place.

Restrictions on Businesses, Activities and Undertakings Direction (No.2): This Public Health Direction replaces the Public Health Direction referred to as the Restrictions on Businesses, Activities and Undertakings made on 31 May 2020. This Direction allows more businesses to reopen, or expand their services, with the following changes: (a) an increase of up to 20 seated patrons at restaurants, cafes and pubs across Queensland;(b) businesses offering accommodation, including caravan parks, can now open for all customers;(c) a number of businesses who previously remained closed can reopen with up to 20 customers or patrons including: gyms, health clubs and yoga studios; community sports clubs; tourism experiences; museums and art galleries, cinemas, amusement parks and zoos, concert venues, theatres and stadiums; and tanning, tattoo parlours and spas (excluding water-based spa services such as saunas and bathhouses). Up to 20 guests are allowed at weddings and up to 100 mourners at a funeral; and some businesses may be allowed to have more patrons/customers by adopting an approved Industry COVID SAFE Plan. All businesses must maintain a one person per four square metre rule.

Restricted Access to Remote Communities Direction (No. 2): This direction relates to travel and access to Queensland’s remote communities and implements Stage 2 of the Roadmap to easing access restrictions for Queensland’s remote communities.

Point of Care Serology Tests Direction: Effective from 23 April 2020 - which directs that a person must not use a point of care serological (blood) test (including an assay, test or device) to detect or diagnose COVID-19, unless they:

- provide pathology services for Pathology Queensland; or

- provide public health services for the Queensland Department of Health or a Hospital and Health Service; or

- provide pathology services as a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited medical pathology service with scope of accreditation in microbiology.

Prescribing, Dispensing or Supply of Hydroxychloroquine Direction: Effective from 7 April 2020 - which directs that the prescribing, dispensing or supply of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of a person is prohibited unless done in accordance with this Direction. 

Protecting Public Officials and Workers (Spitting, Coughing and Sneezing) Direction (No.3)Effective from 15 May 2020 - which directs that a person must not intentionally spit at, cough or sneeze on, or threaten to spit at or cough or sneeze on, any public officials, health workers and workers.

Restricted Access to Designated Areas Direction (No. 3): Effective from 16 May 2020 - which directs that a person must not enter a designated area unless the person is an exempt resident, permitted person or exempt person. An exempt resident or permitted person who enters a designated area must self-quarantine if, in the last 14 days, they have been in a COVID-19 hotspot (note: there are exceptions under the direction). 

Restricting Cruise Ships from Entering Queensland Waters Direction (No. 2): This direction commenced on 11 June 2020, and requires that the operator of a foreign flagged cruise ship must not allow the ship to enter Queensland waters unless permitted under the Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Emergency Requirements for Cruise Ships) Determination 2020 (Cth).

School and Early Childhood Service Exclusion Direction: Effective from 29 March 2020 - this Direction applies to children attending a school or approved early childhood service. If an educator or staff member suspects a child in their care is unwell with a contagious illness they must notify the parent or guardian. The parent or guardian must collect the child as soon as possible, and the child must not return to the school or early childhood service until they are well or enough time has passed that they are not contagious.

Seasonal Workers Health Management Plans Direction: Effective from 5 May 2020 - which directs that a person who owns, controls or operates one or more of the following businesses or service providers must have a health management plan:

- an agribusiness that employs seasonal workers;

- a commercial fisheries business that employs seasonal workers;

- a labour hire firm that employs seasonal workers; 

- an accommodation facility that houses or is available to house seasonal workers; or

- a private or charter workforce transportation provider that provides services to a business described in these dot points.

Self-isolation for Diagnosed Cases of COVID-19 Direction (No. 3): Effective from 19 May 2020 - which directs that persons diagnosed with COVID-19 are to immediately self-isolate and reside in isolation until clearance is given (14 days after diagnosis) in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. The person must not leave the premises except for the purpose of obtaining essential medical care or medical supplies or to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (for example, harm related to family violence).While self-isolating, persons should arrange for online delivery of essential supplies or rely on family, friends or neighbours to organise the delivery of food and essentials to their home. Persons should only leave their  home to obtain essential medical care or essential medical supplies when alternative delivery arrangements are not available or not practical in the circumstances.

Self-quarantine for Persons Arriving in Queensland From Overseas Direction (No. 3): Effective from 1 May 2020 - which directs that persons who arrive in Queensland from overseas must self-quarantine in nominated premises for 14 days in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Trading Hours Notice (No. 2): This replaces the Trading Hours Notice. Effective from 19 May 2020 - an owner or operator of a business used predominantly for the sale of food or groceries or both, is permitted to open the business from 7am on a day the shop is permitted to trade, to enable people to obtain essential groceries, between 19 March and the end of the COVID-19 emergency.

Truck driver rest facilities Notice: Effective from 9 April 2020 - which recommends that owners or operators of businesses operating a truck driver rest facility to continue normal opening hours of the facility during the period of the COVID-19 emergency to assist in the safe movement of road freight, heavy vehicle drivers and essential road users.

Other Directions on the Queensland Health website. 

1.3 Freedom of Assembly 

1.3.1 Background

The ‘twenty person’ rule is implemented in Queensland via the Movement and Gathering Direction made under the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) following the declaration of a public health emergency under section 319(2) of the Act.

Under the Direction, Queensland residents are directed to practice social distancing while outside their principal place of residence, to the extent reasonably practicable. 

Under the Direction, from 1 June 2020, residents are permitted have  no more than 20 people in their residence (such as family members and close friends), subject to certain exceptions.  Gatherings of a maximum of twenty people are permitted in public. 

1.3.2 Exceptions

A gathering does not include a gathering:

  • at an airport that is necessary for the normal business of the airport;
  • for the purposes of or related to public transportation, including in vehicles or at public transportation facilities such as stations, platforms and stops;
  • at a medical or health service facility that is necessary for the normal business of the facilities;
  • for the purposes of emergency services;
  • at a residential aged care facility or residence of a person with a disability, that is necessary for the normal business of the facility or residence;
  • at a prison, corrective services facility, detention centre or other place of custody;
  • at a court or tribunal;
  • at Parliament for the purpose of its normal operations;
  • at a business, facility or service operating in accordance with, or not restricted under, the Restrictions on Businesses, Activities or Undertakings Direction, or its successor, or another Public Health Direction, or in accordance with a COVID SAFE Plan approved by the Chief Health Officer or a delegate;
    Example – wedding, funeral, accommodation facilities, retail store, shopping centre
  • at a workplace, including but not limited to an office building, factory, manufacturing facility, resource extraction, mine or mineral processing facility, utilities or construction sites that is necessary for the normal operation of those premises;
  • at a school, university, educational institution or childcare facility, that is necessary for the normal business of the facility;
  • at an outdoor place where persons may be present for the purposes of transiting through the place;
    Example – Queen Street Mall
  • at an indoor place where persons may be present for the purposes of transiting through the place;
    Example – Central Station
  • specified as exempt from this direction by the Chief Health Officer in writing.

1.4 Penalties

- A person who does not comply with a Direction of the Chief Health Officer is liable to pay a penalty of $13,345.

- A person who does not comply with a Direction made by an emergency officer without a reasonable excuse, including to provide reasonable help to the emergency officer, is liable to pay $13,345.

- A person who does not comply with a detention order is liable to pay $26,690.

1.5 Emergency powers under the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) 

1.5.1 Background

Emergency officers have the following powers under the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) when a public health emergency is in effect if they believe exercising the powers is reasonably necessary. The range of emergency powers empowers officers to: 

- enter a place to save human life or prevent or minimise serious adverse effects on human health; 

- require a person not to enter or remain within a place;

- require a person to stop using a place for a stated purpose;

- require a person to go to a stated place;

- require a person to stay at or in a stated place; 

- require a person to take measures to remove from the person a substance that is a hazard to human health, for example, by showering;

- direct the movement of a person, animal or a vehicle into, out of, or around the public health emergency area;

- require a person to state the person's name and residential address;

- require a person to answer questions by the emergency officer;

- clean or disinfect a place, structure or thing; 

- carry out insect or pest control; 

- demolish stated structures or other property; 

- contain an animal, substance or thing within the public health emergency area; 

- remove an animal, substance or thing from a place;

- destroy animals at a place or remove animals from a place for destruction at another place; 

- dispose of an animal, substance or thing at a place, for example, by burying the animal, substance or thing; 

- take action in relation to property including, for example, to allow the officer to take control of a building for the purposes of the emergency;

- require a person to give the emergency officer reasonable help to exercise emergency officer's powers; and

- other powers authorised under the Act. 

- If a person fails to comply with certain requirements or directions stated above (under subsection 345(1)(a) to (f)), an emergency officer may, with necessary and reasonable help and force, take action to enforce the requirement or direction.

1.5.2 Particular Powers for COVID-19 emergency 

- Emergency officers also have the power to make COVID-19 specific Directions under Part 7A of the Act, such as to require that a person remain at a specific place for up to 14 days (ie the isolation period), unless the person is permitted under a direction to leave the place for a stated purpose. The person must comply with stated conditions during the isolation period (section 362H of the Act).  

- Emergency officers may give the owner or operator of any business an undertaking requiring the business to open, close of limit access to its facility (section 362I of the Act). 

1.5.3 Extra powers of emergency officers (medical)

Emergency officers (medical) have the following powers under the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) when a public health emergency is in effect:

- To order detention for 14 days if the emergency medical officer reasonably suspects that a person has or may have a serious disease or illness constituting an immediate risk to public health, and their detention is necessary to effectively respond to the declared public health emergency (sections 349, 350 of the Act).  The detention order must be in writing and specify certain things, such as the place of detention.  The detention order may be enforced with reasonable help and force, however, a person must be given the opportunity of voluntarily complying with the order before it is enforced.  Other requirements apply to the exercise of this power, for example that the person be tested to see if they have a serious illness as soon as practicable. 

- To establish an isolation area to accommodate persons subject to a detention order (section 350 of the Act).


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