This resource explains the basis for, and extent of, the Victorian restrictions related to COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus) as at 5 January 2021.
On 16 March 2020, the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a State of Emergency had been declared across Victoria to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The Declaration of State of Emergency was extended again on 3 January 2021. The government must review the Declaration of State of Emergency every four weeks and can then extend it further if necessary.
A State of Emergency declaration gives the Victorian Chief Health Officer broad powers to act to eliminate or reduce a serious risk to public health by detaining people, restricting movement, preventing entry to premises or providing any other directions considered reasonable to protect public health, slow the spread of infection, reduce the pressure on the health system and minimise the risks of COVID-19.
The State of Emergency was declared using never-before-used powers under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic) (the Act). The powers may be used in conjunction with the Public Health Powers.
Under the Act, a State of Emergency may be extended for four week periods up to a maximum of 12 months in response to COVID-19.
During a State of Emergency, the Chief Health Officer is given broad powers to do whatever is necessary to eliminate or reduce a serious risk to public health from COVID-19 (Emergency Powers).
These Emergency Powers allow Authorised Officers to:
In addition to the Emergency Powers, the Victorian Chief Health Officer may allow Authorised Offices to exercise certain public health powers where it is necessary to investigate, eliminate or reduce risk to public health from COVID-19 (Public Health Powers).
The Public Health Powers are very broad, and allow Authorised Officers to do any of the following, if necessary to do so to eliminate or reduce the risk to public health:
Only Authorised Officers appointed by the Victorian Chief Health Officer may exercise the Emergency Powers and the Public Health Powers: Authorised Officers must:
The Act enables Authorised Officers to ask Victoria Police for assistance when exercising both the Public Health Powers and Emergency Powers.
This has happened: Victoria Police has established a coronavirus enforcement squad to enforce gathering and stay at home restrictions.
Refusing or failing to comply with a direction given under the Emergency Powers, without a reasonable excuse could result in a fine.
The emergency powers have been used to put in place rules and restrictions across Victoria. The rules are now the same for people in greater Melbourne and regional Victoria. The emergency powers are being used to:
See the linked Victorian 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 the self-isolation direction for people diagnosed with COVID-19 and close contacts may result in a fine of $4,957.
Refusing or failing to comply with a direction given under the Emergency Powers and Public Health Powers, without a reasonable excuse, could result in a fine of up to $1,652 for individuals and $9,913 for businesses.
Failing to comply with the rules around face coverings may result in a fine of $200.
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.
If you have a legal problem related to COVID-19, apply for free legal help from Justice Connect.
 The declaration was made under s 198 of the Act, which gives the Health Minister the power (on the advice of the Chief Health Officer and after consultation with the Minister and the Emergency Management Commissioner) to declare a State of Emergency arising out of “circumstances causing a serious risk to public health“.
 The Act ss 199 and 200(1).
 The Act s 189.
 The Act s 190(1).
 The Act ss 189 and 199.
 The Act s 166.
 The Act s 166(3) and (4).
 The Act ss 200(4) and 190(2).
 The Act ss 192 and 202.
 Premier of Victoria, Police Cracking Down On Deliberate Directive Breaches, 15 July 2020; Premier of Victoria, Police Out in Force Across Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, 8 July 2020.
 The Act ss 193 and 203.
 As above; Workplace Directions (No 15), 3 January 2021; Workplace (Additional Industry Obligations) Directions (No 15), 3 January 2021.
 As above.
 Diagnosed Persons and Close Contacts Directions (No 15), 3 January 2021.
 New South Wales Border Crossing Permit Scheme Directions (No 7), 5 January 2021.
 Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Infringement) Regulations 2020 28 March 2020.