With the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, announcing this week a move to ‘Stage Three’ restrictions to combat COVID-19, many states and territories have been placing further restrictions on people’s movement as well as strict caps placed on the number of people allowed to be together at any one time.

An enforced two-person cap has been recommended on both indoor and outdoor public gatherings, but not all states and territories have adopted these restrictions. In addition, some states have indicated that they will fine people who leave their house for ‘non-essential’ reasons.

The two-person cap does not apply to people who live in the same household, and also excludes workplaces and schools.

Fines and penalties for breaching the new Stage Three restrictions vary between states, with some states even punishing those how breach the restrictions with jail time.

Here is a breakdown of what these restrictions will mean in your state:

NSW: The NSW Government has the toughest lockdown laws in the nation, with those who breach the rules facing fines of up to $11,000 and six months in jail. The NSW Government has released a list of 16 reasons in which people will be allowed to leave from their homes. These include travel to:

  • Work (if working from home is not possible)
  • School or an education institution
  • The shops for food and other essential items
  • Get medical care, and
  • Exercise, but only if exercise is done alone or with one other person
  • Flee an unsafe home, so to avoid injury or illness
  • Deal with an emergency or on compassionate grounds
  • Provide care or helping a vulnerable relative/person
  • Take your child to childcare
  • Attend a wedding or funeral, adhering to the previously enforced limits
  • Move to a new house or move between two places of residence
  • Donate blood
  • Fulfil legal obligations
  • Access support services, such as employment services, mental services, etc.
  • Fulfil parental sharing arrangements of children, and
  • Go to a place of worship or to provide pastoral care, if you are a priest, minister or member of a religious order.

VIC – The Victorian Premier introduced new on-the-spot fines for those who defy the new Stage Three lockdown rules, with police able to administer fines of more than $1,600 should they break the two-people gathering rule.

The Hon Daniel Andrews MP has outlined that there are only four reasons that Victorians will be allowed out of their homes:

  • To shop for food and supplies
  • To exercise
  • To seek medical care
  • To travel to work and education, if necessary.

TAS – Tasmanian Premier, the Hon Peter Gutwein MP, has foreshadowed on-the-spot fines for those who congregate in larger groups with the Premier putting ‘Tasmania’s health, wellbeing and safety as the first priority.’

NT – Northern Territory’s Chief Minister, the Hon Michael Gunner MP, has said that police would not be enforcing the two-person rule with the NT Police focussed on securing the Territory’s borders and protecting remote communities. However, the Chief Minister didn’t rule out a change to the Government’s policy, with the police currently enforcing a limit of groups of 10.

SA – The South Australian Police Commissioner, Mr Grant Stevens, announced that the two-person rule would not be enforced in the SA, instead fines will continue to apply to those people who break the state’s ban on gatherings of more than 10 people. Individuals can face fines of up to $1,000 while business can face fines of up to $5,000.

ACT – Chief Minister, Mr Andrew Barr MLA, has indicated that in the first instance people would not be fined for breaking the two-person rule. Instead ACT Police would be tasked with educating and warning people about the dangers of defying the national directive.

However, if an individual continued to breach the directive, ACT Police would then have legislated powers to issue on-the-spot fines.

QLD – Queensland has already legislated on-the-spot fines of $1,330 for individuals and $6,670 for corporations should they be breaching new public health directives. Queensland already has tough fines for those break the quarantine rules, with individuals facing fines up to $13,345 or $66,670 for corporations.

WA – WA Premier, the Hon Mark McGowan MLA, announced that he intended to bring back a limited sitting of the Parliament to introduce legislation allowing WA Police to issue on-the-spot fines to those breaching the new stage three restrictions introduced this week. Penalties will include a $1,000 fine for individuals and $5,000 fines for business who disobey the new restrictions.