New South Wales's Strict New Coronavirus Social Distancing Rules Explained

By Nadia
Current Events


New South Wales's Strict New Coronavirus Social Distancing Rules Explained


Here we try to answer some of the most common questions people have about the new laws based on the information, though these answers should not be treated as legal advice.

Can I visit my romantic partner if we don’t live together?

Although legislation would suggest the answer is no, police commissioner Mike Fuller said on Wednesday that yes, you are allowed. This is considered to come under the “care” exemption.

Yes you are allow you to leave the home, and meet with one person to do exercise. This means you are allowed to meet your partner or a friend in public to exercise with them. Some states have limits on how far you can travel for exercise, however.

Can I temporarily move in with my partner during the lockdowns?

Yes, you are allowed to move house.

Can I take my dog for a walk?

Yes, in all states you are allowed to leave your home for exercise, which includes dog walking. Social distancing measures should be observed while out, and in Victoria, NSW, Queensland, WA*, Tasmania and ACT, you can only be joined by one other person or those in your household.

How far are you allowed to travel for exercise?

No states have specific rules on the distance you are allowed to travel to exercise, however many have appealed for people to use “common sense”.

You are allowed to drive across town however you aren’t allowed to travel hours out of the city.

Can my relatives babysit for me if we don’t live together?

The federal government is recommending those over 70, those with chronic illness over 60 and Indigenous people over 50, self-isolate as much as possible. However, no state will currently issue penalties to those who do not.

Therefore, it’s recommended that elderly relatives do not look after children.

Yes, it counts as “care”.

Can I visit my immediate family if we don’t live together?

Generally no.* On Wednesday police commissioner Mick Fuller said visiting romantic partners counted as “care” and was therefore allowed, however when Guardian Australia asked NSW police if visiting immediate family was also constituted as “care” they said that social visits do not count. We will seek further clarification on this issue. You can, however, visit family if you are caring for them, delivering them food, assisting with medication, taking them to the shops if they require assistance etc.

All states currently allow you to leave the home, and meet up with one person to do exercise. This means you are allowed to meet a family member in public to exercise with them. There are limits on how far you can travel for exercise, however, see above.

My kids live part-time with me and my partner. Are they still allowed to travel between homes?

Yes. Currently, all states allow you to uphold current shared parental agreements. This means you are allowed to drive your children to their other parent or carer’s residence, and they are allowed to visit your residence to pick children up.

Am I allowed to leave home if it’s an emergency or required by law?

Yes. All states allow you to leave your home if you are legally required to do so. You are allowed to flee violence, and you are allowed to leave if your house becomes uninhabitable.

Can I have social guests if I live alone?

All Australians have been urged to avoid unnecessary socialisation.

No, social visits are not allowed.

Can I get a coffee with a friend?

Yes, but only if it is takeaway and you have met a friend for the purpose of exercising.

Can I give someone a lift to work, even if they don’t live with me?

Yes you can drive a colleague to work with you, however, it is unclear if you can leave the house to drive someone to their job if you do not also work there. If they cannot drive themselves this is likely covered under “care”.* You can only take one passenger or anyone who is part of your household.

Can a tradesperson still come into my house to do work?

Yes, however only if it is for essential works. If it can wait, it should.

Physical distancing practices should be observed.

Can I still learn to drive?

NSW– The local authorities have explicitly said this is a reasonable excuse to leave the house.

Who decides if I am breaking the new laws?

Generally, enforcement will be left up to the discretion of police officers.

States have expressed different approaches, for example, the ACT says it will be issuing a warning in the first instance, while Victoria has adopted a more hard-line attitude to those break social distancing rules.

NSW Police commissioner Mick Fuller said on Thursday he would personally review all physical distancing fines issued in the state.

“If I think it’s unreasonable, it will be withdrawn immediately and we’ll make personal contact with the individual,” he said.

What are my options for challenging a fine?

Not all states have specified this, however, it appears these fines can be appealed using the same process as other fines issued by police.

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