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 Western Australian Laws 


Last updated: 31 July 2020

This page has not been updated since the date listed above. We are currently focusing on monitoring COVID measures in Victoria only due to the decrease in significant changes in other jurisdictions. 


1. Public Health Act 2016 (WA)

1.1 Background

1.2 Emergency powers under the Public Health Act 2016 (WA)

2. Emergency Management Act 2005 (WA)

2.1 Background

2.2 Directions under the Emergency Management Act 2005 (WA)

2.3 Penalties

2.4 New powers under the  Emergency Management Act 2005 (WA)

3.Criminal Code Act 1913 (WA)

4. Family violence legislation Reform (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 (WA)

5. Local Government Act 1995 (WA)


1. Public Health Act 2016 (WA)

1.1 Background

Once the Minister for Emergency Services declared a state of emergency under section 167 of Public Health Act 2016 (WA) (the Act), Directions were able to be made under section 174(2) of the Act.

Once a public health state of emergency is declared, appointed emergency officers may also exercise the emergency powers listed in Part 12 of the Act. 

The public health state of emergency was initially declared for 14 days from 23 March 2020, but has been extended numerous times under section 170 of the Act. It is currently in place until 6 August 2020.

1.2 Emergency powers under the Public Health Act 2016 (WA)

Emergency officers have the following powers under the Public Health Act 2016 (WA) when a public health state of emergency is in effect:

- To obtain identifying particulars of a person (i.e. their name and address) where reasonably required for emergency management purposes;

- To move and evacuate persons, animals and vehicles in, out or around the emergency area;

- To use any vehicle, or to control or use premises or property of any person for emergency management purposes, subject to certain restrictions;

- To exercise and enforce powers in relation to quarantine, such as directing a person to remain in a specified area or to undergo quarantine or decontamination; and

- Other emergency powers prescribed by the Act.


2. Emergency Management Act 2005 (WA)

2.1 Background

The Emergency Management Act 2005 (WA) provides for the coordinated organisation of emergency management in Western Australia. Under the Act, Directions can be made by the Chief Health Officer to respond to emergencies. 

2.2 Directions under the Emergency Management Act 2005 (WA)

The following Directions have been made by the Chief Health Officer:

Closure and Restriction (Limit the Spread) Directions (No 5): This direction replaces the Closure and Restriction (Limit the Spread) Directions (No. 4), and came into effect on 26 June 2020.  The purpose of these directions is to prohibit certain gatherings and activities and to give further directions in order to prevent, control or abate the risks associated with the emergency presented by the pandemic caused by COVID-19.  The new direction includes (among other things) a new concept of ‘high capacity hospitality venue’ and person limits for Optus Stadium, HBF Park and RAC Arena. A high capacity hospitality venue must not allow a gathering of 2 or  more persons in a single undivided indoor or outdoor space where there is not at least 2 square metres of space for each person.

Isolation (Diagnosed) Directions: these directions affect people who have been informed they have tested positive for or otherwise been diagnosed with COVID-19.  Such persons must isolate until they are informed they are no longer required to isolate. They must truthfully answer questions about their health, follow appropriate infection control measures and comply with instructions and directions given by a relevant officer. 

Quarantine and Isolation (Undiagnosed) Directions: these directions affect three types of people: people that are a close contact of a person with COVID-19; persons tested for COVID-19 who are awaiting their result; and those who develop COVID-19 symptoms while in quarantine. These people must isolate in accordance with these directions.

Quarantine (Closing the Border) Directions: which directs that the WA border will be closed, except to exempt travellers (such as national and state security officials, or health care workers entering by request of the Chief Health Officer). If a person enters WA and is not an exempt traveller, they must leave if they are able to do so. If they are unable to do so, quarantine directions will be issued requiring 14 days of self-isolation. 

Quarantine (Closing the Border) Directions Approval for Transiting Aircraft Passengers (No 2): This approval provides for the terms and conditions under which transiting aircraft passengers may enter Western Australia as exempt travellers under the Quarantine (Closing the Border) Directions.

Remote Aboriginal Communities Directions: which prohibits travel into remote Aboriginal communities. Exceptions include where a person normally resides or works there, for family or cultural purposes, or for providing or accessing essential human services or supplies such as medical care, education and justice related services. 

Variation of Schedule 1 to the Remote Aboriginal Communities (No 3) (Karalundi): The purpose of this variation is to exclude a part of Karalundi, a community that is a Remote Aboriginal Community listed in Schedule 1 to the Remote Aboriginal Communities Directions (No. 3), from the operation of the Directions.

Visitors to Residential Aged Care Facilities Directionswhich prohibits visits to residential aged care facilities. Exceptions include where a person works at the facility, is there to provide goods or services necessary for the operation of the facility, is there to provide medical or health services, or is there to provide legal services relating to wills and estate planning.    

Rottnest Island Closure Direction: which directs that Rottnest Island is closed to the public, and may only be accessed by non-residents for the purpose of emergency management, law enforcement or providing medical care or supplies. 

2.3 Penalties

- A person who does not comply with a Direction of the Chief Health Officer or emergency officer can be punished with imprisonment for up to 12 months, or liable to pay a fine of up to $50,000.

- A corporation that does not comply with a Direction of the Chief Health Officer or emergency officer can be liable to pay a fine of up to $250,000.

2.4 New powers under the Emergency Management Act 2005 (WA) 

The amendments introduced in the Emergency Management Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020 (WA) introduce the following powers:

- The State Emergency Coordinator may direct that a person who is in quarantine be subject to an approved electronic monitoring device if it is satisfied that this is necessary to monitor the person’s location during the quarantine period, which is either to be worn on their person, installed in their house, or implemented in any other reasonable way.

- An authorised officer may enter a place where an approved electronic monitoring device has been installed to retrieve the device at any time. 

A failure to comply with a direction relating to an electronic monitoring device, or an attempt to obstruct an authorised officer or to remove or impede the functioning of an electronic monitoring device, may result in a penalty consisting of 12 months imprisonment or a fine of $12,000. 

3.Criminal Code Act 1913 (WA)  

The amendments introduced in the Criminal Code Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020 (WA) expand the crime of serious assault against a public officer (such as a police officer or an ambulance officer) to include assaults where the offender at the commission of the offence knows that the offender has COVID-19, or if the offender makes a statement or makes any other act that creates a belief, suspicion or fear that the offender has COVID-19. 

This additional offence applies in the 12 month period beginning on the day the amendment comes into operation, and carries a penalty of 10 years imprisonment.  This is the same penalty as if the offender were armed with a dangerous or offensive weapon or was in the company of other people.


4. Family Violence Legislation Reform (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020

The Family Violence Legislation Reform (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 (the Act) amends the Sentencing Act 1995 (Sentencing Act), the Sentence Administration Act 2003 (Sentence Administration Act), the Bail Act 1982 (Bail Act) and the Restraining Orders Act 1997 (Restraining Orders Act).

The amendments include the following:

- Sentencing Act: the Court may impose electronic monitoring requirements for the purpose of monitoring the location of an offender for ‘Intensive Sentencing Orders’ and ‘conditional suspended imprisonment orders’. A general provision also enables administration by the Department of Justice of approved electronic monitoring, consistent with the approach in the existing legislation; 

- Sentencing Administration Act: similar such amendments to those made to the Sentencing Act were enacted;

- Bail Act: an amendment to widen the definition of ‘approved electronic monitoring device’ was made. Further, section 16A(3) of the Bail Act was deleted, enabling police officers to grant bail for breaches of ‘family violence restraining orders’ or ‘violence restraining orders’ in an urban area. Before the amendment, such grants could only be made in regional areas. 

- Restraining Orders Act: a series of amendments were made for the purpose of enabling electronic lodging of restraining orders so that functions that must currently be undertaken by a Registrar can be carried out by the court’s electronic system where required.


5. Local Government Act 1995

The Local Government Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020 amends the Local Government Act 1995 to provide a power to the Minister to waive or suspend the operation of any provision of the Act, during the declared state of emergency, to allow local governments to continue to operate and make critical decisions. The amendment also allows a local government to suspend local laws, in whole or part, for the purpose of responding to the direct or indirect impacts of COVID-19. 

This amendment will only have practical application within the period that a COVID emergency declaration, made under section 56 of the Emergency Management Act 2005, is in force. The suspension or revocation of a local law will require an absolute majority of the local government in order to be passed. 


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