Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020 – EXPLAINED

The NSW Minister for Health passed the Order at 10.30pm on Monday 30th March 2020 – so what does this mean for you?

What’s this Order all about?

The explanatory note basically set out that the objective of this order under the Public Health Act 2010, is two-fold:

  1. Control the spread of the Covid-19 virus by directing people to remain in their residence (except if they have a reasonable excuse) and;
  2. Directs that gatherings in a public place must be limited to two (2) people (except where the people are of the same household or the gatherings are essential for work or education).

Commencement: The Order commences from Tuesday 31 March 2020.

Cessation: Unless revoked earlier, the Order should cease on 29 June 2020.

So what could happen if I breach the order?

Section 10 of the Public Health Act 20 IO 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 $27,5 00 each day the offence continues.

What are some reasonable excuses to allow me to leave my home?

Schedule 1 of the Order (full list below) sets out all the reasonable excuses; including having to go buy food, travelling for work/education/to drop off children at a day care centre or school/exercise and medical/caring reasons.

Schedule 1 Reasonable excuses

1. 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

2. travelling for the purposes of work if the person cannot work from the person’s place

of residence

3. travelling for the purposes of attending childcare (including picking up or dropping

another person at childcare)

4. 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

5. exercising

6. obtaining medical care or supplies or health supplies or fulfilling carer’s


7. attending a wedding or a funeral in the circumstances referred to in clause 6(2)(d) and

(e) or 7(1)(h)

8. 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

9. providing care or assistance (including personal care) to a vulnerable person or

providing emergency assistance

1 O. donating blood

11. undertaking any legal obligations

12. accessing public services (whether provided by Government, a private provider or a

non-Government organisation), including-

(a) social services, and

(b) employment services, and

(c) domestic violence services, and

(d) mental health services, and

(e) services provided to victims (including as victims of crime)

13. 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

14. for a person who is a priest, minister of religion or member of a religious ordergoing to the person’s place of worship or providing pastoral care to another person

15. avoiding injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm

16 for emergencies or compassionate reasons

Can I ever publically gather with more than 1 person?

Short answer is yes – but only if the gathering falls under one of the essential gatherings as listed in Schedule 2 (full list below)

For example; the rule about 2person limit does not apply where the gathering is for the purposes of work/the gathering includes members of the same household/a gathering to facilitate a house move/gathering necessary to fulfil a legal obligation (attend Court/Tribunal/satisfy bail conditions).

Schedule 2 Essential gatherings

1. a gathering at an airport that is necessary for the normal business of the airport

2. a gathering for the purposes of or related to transportation, including in vehicles or at

stations, platforms or stops or other public transportation facilities

3. a gathering at a hospital or other medical or health service facility that is necessary

for the normal business of the facility

4. a gathering for the purposes of emergency services

5. a gathering at a prison, correctional facility, youth justice centre or other place of


6. a gathering at a disability or aged care facility that is necessary for the normal

business of the facility

7. a gathering at a court or tribunal

8. a gathering at Parliament for the purpose of its normal operations

9. 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

10. 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

11. 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

12. 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

13. 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

14. a gathering at an outdoor space where 2 or more persons may be present for the

purposes of transiting through the place

Example, Pitt Street Mall

Where can I actually go? What has to close?

The Minister has directed the list of premises that must close including the following:

  • Pubs & Clubs (except for providing takeaway food/drinks and accommodation services)
  • Food & Drink premises (except for providing takeaway food & drinks)
  • Entertainment facilities (defined as theatre, cinema, music hall, concert hall, dance hall and the like)
  • Amusement centres;
  • Casinos (except for providing accommodation and food for room service)
  • Micro-breweries and small distilleries (except for providing takeaway services)
  • Indoor recreational facilities;
  • Places of worship (except when conducting a wedding (5person limit) or funeral (10person limit)
  • Beauty and nail salons, spas, waxing and tanning salons, tattoo parlours and massage parlours.
  • Auction houses and betting agencies;
  • Markets (but not markets that sell predominantly food like Flemington markets)
  • Information and educational facilities (for example art gallery, library, museum, visitor information centre and the like).
  • Caravan parks and camping grounds (except for accommodating permanent residents or people with no alternative permanent place of residence)
  • Community facilities
  • Sex services premises.
  • Public pools.
  • A property (other than a retail shop) operated by the National Trust or Historic Houses Trust;
  • Gaming lounge;
  • Strip club;
  • Outdoor playgrounds
  • Outdoor gyms
  • Skate park

No open home inspections can be conducted for the purposes of a sale or lease of premises or auctions. Vendors and landlords may show one single person the premises with an appointment.  

In short; you can go to the supermarket to buy food, medical centre, hospital, workplace (if you can’t work from home), school or day care. Check out Schedule 1 for all your reasonable excuses for leaving home.

Government agencies can disclose and share information

Government sector agency or a NSW Minister (the first agency) is authorised to collect information from, or use or disclose information to, a related agency if the first agency considers it necessary to do so for the purposes of protecting the health or welfare of members of the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Any exceptions?

Other than as listed; the Minister may grant an exemption to this Order if the Minister deems the conditions appropriate.

Zahraa Algalele