COVID-19 Penalty Notices Lawyers Central Coast 2250

The Covid-19 pandemic is creating daily challenges for everyone. We remain open to assist you 24/7 and have systems in place to attend to your Criminal Law matter during this time.

The police are now issuing Court Attendance Notices to attend court 8 weeks from the date of being charged or more. If you have received a Court Attendance Notice this may be very worrying. You may prefer that the matter be dealt with quickly. It may be possible to have your matter listed before the Court and dealt with at an earlier date. We have successfully liaised with the Courts and the Police to have some matters listed early and settled quickly. Please contact Fourtree Lawyers on 1300 529 444 to see if your matter qualifies.

COVID-19. What you can and can’t do.

Are you confused about the new COVID-19 restrictions on movements imposed on us by the Government?

Every time we turn the news on, there are changes restricting our movements even further. So it is not surprising that we are all quite confused and overwhelmed.

The new restrictions on our movements is governed by the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020 under the Public Health Act 2010.

What is the difference between an Act and an Order?

An Act is a piece of legislation made by Parliament. An Act will remain in force until a new piece of legislation is enacted that overrides the pre-existing Act. An Act that is overridden is known as repealed legislation. An Act directs what kind of penalties are involved with certain offending behaviours.

An Order is not necessarily made by Parliament but can be made by higher authorities that issue notifications that are binding. An Order must be read in conjunction with the Act that it is made under. The Act under which an Order is made will generally direct the duration of enforceability of an Order. An Order cannot impose penalties.

In the present situation, the Minister of Health and Medical Research was the higher authority who has made the direction relating to the new restrictions on movement in New South Wales. The Minister’s authority is derived from Section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010. 

The Order commenced on 31 March 2020 and is in force for 90 days from this date unless the Minister directs otherwise.

The Minister concluded that due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the potentially fatal and highly contagious Coronavirus, a direction to address the risk to public safety was necessary.

The direction under the Order is that a person is not allowed to leave their place of residence without reasonable excuse.’

Schedule 1 of the Order defines ‘Reasonable Excuses to be the following:

  1. Obtaining food, goods or services for the personal needs of the household (including pets) and for vulnerable persons.
  2. Travelling for work if you cannot work from home
  3. Travelling to and from childcare
  4. Travelling to and from school or an educational institution if a you cannot study from home
  5. Exercising
  6. Obtaining medical care, health supplies or fulfilling carer’s responsibilities.
  7. Attending a wedding or a funeral in the circumstances where there is compliance with the gathering restrictions, as below:
           a. Wedding = no more than 5 persons (including person conducting the service).
           b. Funeral = no more than 10 persons (including person conducting the service).
  8. Moving to or inspecting a new place of residence or a business premises.
  9. Providing care and assistance to a vulnerable person or providing emergency assistance.
  10. Donating blood.
  11. Undertaking any legal obligations.
  12. Accessing public services, including: - social services, employment services, domestic violence services, mental health services, services provided to victims.
  13. For children who do not live in the same household as their parents or siblings. This includes continuing existing arrangements for access to and contact between parents, children and siblings.
  14. For a person who is a priest, minister of religion or a member of a religious order – going to the person’s place of worship or providing pastoral care to another person.
  15. Avoiding injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm.
  16. For emergencies or compassionate reasons.

Can I Visit My Family?

Under the current COVID-19 rules in NSW, you cannot visit others unless it falls in line with one of the 16 reasonable excuses listed above. The main reason is that you may infected with COVID-19 and be unknowingly asymptomatic, and you could pass the coronavirus onto your loved ones. So, unless you live with your mum and dad, dropping in visit is off the cards.

Do not visit elderly relatives or those most at risk of suffering severe symptoms of COVID-19. Big family gatherings are out, so plan to do those via Facetime, SKYPE or Zoom.

Can I Go Away For The Weekend?

No, no and no! There is no leeway here. Hotels and such are now closed to all but those who need accommodation for work or self-isolation purposes, and "going camping" is not on the list of reasons to leave your house. Pre-booked holidays are not viewed as an "essential" reason to travel.

Can I Go For A Drive?

Not unless you have a reason for driving. People are being encouraged to stay close to their homes for shopping, exercise, and other essential needs This is to decrease the potential spread of coronavirus, and also to limit the number of people who may need emergency services in the case of an accident. So no, you can't go for a Sunday drive.

Where can I go to exercise?

People were initially allowed to go to the beach to swim or as part of their daily exercise. Unfortunately, due to the level of non-compliance with social distancing, local councils have been forced to close the beaches.

You can still go to a park or an oval in your local neighbourhood to exercise if there are no more than 2 people in the group and you are maintaining social distancing. Any more than 2 people in a group is now deemed to be a ‘non-essential gathering’

However, to err on the side of caution, you should exercise at home or somewhere close by.

Remember, even if you are in public with someone from the same household as you, you must be complying with the social distancing measures.

The following places where people used to exercise have now been closed:

  • Indoor Recreational Facilities (including gyms, indoor swimming pools, tennis centres, health studios).
  • Outdoor gymnasium equipment in a public place.
  • Public Swimming pools.

Why are Retail Stores closing?

Despite not being directed to close, a large amount of retail stores are now closing due to the restrictions imposed on ‘gatherings.’

The direction that effects retail stores most is Clause 8(c) of the Order, which states that a person who is an operator or occupier of a premises must not:

  • Allow persons to enter or stay on the premises if the size of the premises is insufficient to ensure there is a 4 square metre of space for each person on the premises.

This direction along with the reality that most retail stores would have incurred a significant decrease in revenue has heavily impacted the retailer’s ability to remain open and operating.

What if I am experiencing domestic/family violence?

A reasonable excuse for leaving a place of residence is to escape risk of harm and/or injury.

The current restrictions on our movements do not mean you have to stay inside a residence that is not safe for you and/or your children.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, support services remain open and able to assist.

What is the penalty if I am caught without a reasonable excuse?

If you fail to comply with the direction issued under the Order, the following penalties apply:

  1. For individuals – a fine up to $11,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment. In the case of a recurring offence, a further $5,500 for each day the offence continues.
  2. For corporations – a fine up to $55,500. In the case of a recurring offence, a further $27,500 for each day the offence continues.

Do you have a right to appeal this infringement?

If you receive a penalty notice issuing you with a fine for the alleged offending behaviour, the following avenues of appeal are available:

  1. Request a review of the infringement.
  2. If your review is unsuccessful, you can elect to have the penalty notice determined by a Magistrate of the Local Court.

We are here to help

If you have been issued a penalty notice you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. We can facilitate your consultation via telephone and video (via FaceTime, Zoom, Skype), in compliance with all social distancing measures.

If you have been fined and are looking for advice on appealing your penalty notice, or if you are a business wanting advice on how best to comply with the movement restrictions or even if you have a general question about the new rules, we are here to provide you with reliable advice during this pandemic.

For more information on the COVID-19 crisis and how to protect yourself, visit the NSW Health website.

More Reading -

COVID-19 and the NSW Courts

COVID-19 and Parenting Orders


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