16 December 2020
This resource explains the basis for, and extent of, the restrictions related to COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus) in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) as at 16 December 2020.
On 16 March 2020, the ACT Minister for Health declared a public health emergency for the ACT to combat the public health risk posed by COVID-19 (Emergency Declaration). This Emergency Declaration, which has been extended, will be in force until 17 February 2021. The Health Minister can extend the Emergency Declaration for further 90-day periods.
An Emergency Declaration gives the Chief Health Officer broad powers to take any action or give any direction she considers necessary or desirable to alleviate the public health risk to the ACT community, posed by COVID-19.
While an Emergency Declaration is in force, the Chief Health Officer has broad powers to take any action, or give any direction, which they consider necessary or desirable to alleviate the public health risk to the ACT community posed by COVID-19.
This includes actions or directions to:
We will refer to these as the Public Health Emergency Powers.
Refusing or failing to comply with a direction given by the Chief Health Officer, without a reasonable excuse could result in a fine.
Only Authorised Persons can exercise the Public Health Emergency Powers. An Authorised Person includes:
While the Emergency Declaration is in force, Authorised Persons may use such reasonable force and assistance as is necessary to:
If the Authorised Person is on someone’s property and cannot produce the relevant identity card or authorisation upon request of the occupier, they must leave the property.
At the time of publication, the Public Health Emergency Powers have been used to:
See the linked ACT Government explanations of these directions for further details.
If you are a community organisation, find out about how these restrictions impact your duties to employees and volunteers.
There are additional restrictions made through Federal Government powers. To understand those restrictions, see our Federal Government resource.
Refusing or failing to comply with a direction under the Public Health Emergency Powers, without a reasonable excuse, could result in a fine of up to $8,000 for individuals and $40,500 for businesses.
If you or your family are directed to do something using the Emergency Powers, you can get legal advice through Justice Connect.
If you have a legal problem related to COVID-19, apply for free legal help from Justice Connect.
 Australian Capital Territory, Public Health (Emergency) Declaration Further Extension 2020 (No 12), 18 November 2020.
 An extension under section 119(4)(a) of the Public Health Act 1997 (ACT) (the Act) requires that a declaration must be revoked if the Minister decides, after taking into account the advice of the Chief Health Officer, that the COVID-19 declaration is no longer justified (see s 119(4A)).
 The declaration was made under s 198 of the Act, which gives the Health Minister the power to declare a public health emergency if satisfied that it is justified in the circumstances.
 The Act s 120.
 Authorised Person includes the Chief Health Officer; a public health officer authorised for the purpose of s 12A(1) of the Act; a member of the ambulance service; a police officer; or a person or class of persons authorised by the Chief Health Officer (see the Act ss 121(4) and (2)).
 The Act s 120.
 The Act, s 120(4).
 The Act s 121(4).
 The Act s 121(1).
 The Act s 121(3).
 The Act s 120(1); Public Health (Restricted Activities –Gatherings, Business or Undertakings) Emergency Direction 2020 (No 16), 16 December 2020.
 As above.
 The Act s 120(1); Public Health (Returned Travellers) Emergency Direction 2020 (No 8), 9 October 2020.
 The Act s 120(1); Public Health (Residential Aged Care Facilities) Emergency Direction (No 3), 26 June 2020.
 The Act s 120(1); Public Health (Self-Isolation) Emergency Direction 2020 (No 4), 9 October 2020.
 The Act s 120(3).