23 November 2020
This resource explains the basis for, and extent of, the COVID-19-related restrictions in New South Wales as at 23 November2020.
The NSW Government has also established the State Emergency Operations Centre (SEOC), comprising of experts from over 20 critical agencies such as Police, Education and Transport. SEOC is led by the Deputy Police Commissioner and will be operating 24/7 to respond efficiently to the ongoing risk of COVID-19.
The NSW Government has the power to deal with public health risks generally where a situation arises that is a risk to public health. A state of emergency does not need to be declared to use these powers.
The NSW Health Minister has very broad powers to do take any action and give directions necessary to deal with the risk and consequences of COVID-19 (Public Health Powers).
These Public Health Powers allow the Health Minister to make any direction necessary to:
Orders made under the Public Health Powers expire after 90 days, unless they are withdrawn or made to expire sooner.
The Secretary of the Ministry of Health may appoint Authorised Officers, such as members of the Department of Health, members of the NSW Health Service or members of a local government authority such as a council.
Once appointed, Authorised Officers may also exercise certain powers under the Act, including to:
Authorised Officers must:
Refusing or failing to comply with an Authorised Officer’s direction without a reasonable excuse could result in a fine of up to $550.
The Public Health Powers are being used to
See the linked NSW 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 given by the NSW Health Minister without a reasonable excuse is an offence, and could result in a fine of up to $11,100 for individuals, six months’ imprisonment, or both. Further fines of $5,500 apply for each day the offence continues.
Businesses face fines of up to $55,000 and up to a further $27,500 for each day the offence continues.
In addition, the NSW Government has passed an order directing that you must not intentionally spit at or cough on any worker in a way that causes fear about the spread of COVID-19. The above penalties apply to a breach of that order.
If you receive a fine, you may choose to seek legal advice. You may have a defence if there was a reasonable reason for you being unable to follow the instruction.
If you or your family are directed to do something using the Emergency Powers, you can get legal advice through Justice Connect.
 Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) (the Act) s 7(1).
 The Act, s 7(1).
 The Act, s 7(2).
 The Act, s 7(5).
 The Act s 126.
 The Act s 108.
 The Act s 110.
 The Act ss 111 and 112.
 The Act s 108(2) and (3).
 The Act s 108(2) and (3).
 The Act s 108(4).
 The Act s 113
 The Act s 7; Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 5), 22 October 2020.
 As above; Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 5), 22 October 2020; Exemption under the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gatherings and Movement) Order (No 3) 2020, 22 June 2020; Exemption under Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 2) 2020, 19 May 2020; Exemption under the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 4) 2020, 14 July 2020.
 As above.
 Public Health (COVID-19 Maritime Quarantine) Order (No 3) 2020, 21 September 2020.
 Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order (No 4) 2020, 20 October 2020.
 Public Health (COVID-19 Residential Aged Care Facilities) Order (No 3) 2020, 18 September 2020.
 Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control – South Australia) Order 2020, 18 November 2020/
 The Act, s 10.
 As above.
 The Act s 7; Public Health (COVID-19 Spitting and Coughing) Order (No 3) 2020, 25 September 2020.