Covid 19 restrictions update
Stay-at-home orders have been extended until September 30 for anyone living or who have been in Greater Sydney, including the Central Coast. You can now only leave home to get food and essentials; medical care and compassionate needs, getting vaccinated, exercising, and essential work.
For more information on other restrictions in Greater Sydney, go to www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/rules/greater-sydney.
Stay-at-home orders for anyone living in regional NSW have been extended to September 10.
For the full list of restrictions, go to www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/rules/what-you-can-do-nsw.
The new restrictions will affect local courts in Greater Sydney and on the Central Coast.
- All defended hearings have been cancelled and participants in those proceedings are not required to attend court.
- Mentions and pleas, where possible, will proceed via telephone with statements provided by email.
- Sentences can proceed in person or can be adjourned to a later date. In these cases, masks must be worn.
Although legal obligations are exempt from the stay-at-home order, appointments at our Erina office are advised for clients living on the Central Coast and in Greater Sydney are done over the phone, via email or video link where possible.
Clients in regional NSW should wear face masks if attending our office in the Newcastle CBD and practise social distancing.
Penalties for breaching the Public Health Orders
It is an offence to not comply with a public health order and the following penalties can apply:
- a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 6 months and/or a penalty of up to $11,000
- plus a further $5,500 fine each day the offence continues.
Corporations that fail to comply with a direction are liable to:
- a fine of $55,000
- plus a further $27,500 fine each day the offence continues.
On the spot fines can also be issued:
- $1000 for breach of a public health order
- $3000 for participating in an outdoor gathering of more than two people
- $500 for failure to comply with a direction to wear or carry a mask for those aged 18 years or older
- $80 for failure to comply with a direction to wear or carry a mask for those aged 16 or 17 years of age
- $40 for failure to comply with a direction to wear or carry a mask for those aged 15 or younger
- $5000 for failure to comply with the obligation to answer questions asked by a contact tracer, provide your name and contact details to a contact tracer, and provide true and accurate information to a contact tracer
- $5000 for failure to comply with obligations to self-isolate if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, including staying at home or in hospital, as determined by a doctor, nurse or paramedic; providing details of contact with other persons and places you have visited; and complying with NSW Health guidelines
- $5000 for failure to comply with obligations to self-isolate if you are a close contact of a person diagnosed with COVID-19, including staying at home up to 14 days, as determined by a doctor, nurse or paramedic; submitting to testing for COVID-19, and complying with NSW Health guidelines.
Penalties for spitting and coughing:
Penalties apply to people who intentionally spit at or cough on:
- a public official
- another worker while the worker is at work or travelling to or from work
- in a way that would reasonably be likely to cause fear about the spread of COVID-19.
The NSW Police may issue an on-the-spot fine of $5,000 to individuals for this offence.
Workers who are covered by this rule include police, hospital staff and other health workers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, rideshare drivers, food delivery workers, security guards and postal delivery staff.
We are here to help
Fourtree Lawyers can guide you through these new restrictions and work with you to minimise the legal ramifications of your offence.
Instructing a lawyer to act on your behalf will ensure you fully understand your position and your options and will assist you in getting the best possible results for your case.
Contact our Newcastle and Central Coast lawyers on 1800 157 934 as soon as possible. The earlier we can start building a strong case for you, the higher your chance of getting a good outcome.
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 are 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 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:
- Obtaining food, goods or services for the personal needs of the household (including pets) and vulnerable persons.
- Travelling for work if you cannot work from home
- Travelling to and from childcare
- Travelling to and from school or an educational institution if you cannot study from home
- Obtaining medical care, health supplies or fulfilling carer’s responsibilities.
- 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 the person conducting the service).
b. Funeral = no more than 10 persons (including the person conducting the service).
- Moving to or inspecting a new place of residence or a business premises.
- Providing care and assistance to a vulnerable person or providing emergency assistance.
- Donating blood.
- Undertaking any legal obligations.
- Accessing public services, including - social services, employment services, domestic violence services, mental health services, services provided to victims.
- 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.
- 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.
- Avoiding injury or illness or escaping a risk of harm.
- 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 be 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 to 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 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 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 number of retail stores are now closing due to the restrictions imposed on ‘gatherings.’
The direction that affects 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 the 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:
- 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.
- 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:
- Request a review of the infringement.
- 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.
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- Resist | Assault Police
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Very Helpful, Very Organized approach in defending you in court, Fourtree Lawyers are the company to chose if you want all the confusion and stress to be explained to you and for you in regard to facing court, these people are the Answer.
I’d like to thank Kevin and Jane for meeting me on the weekend and saving me a trip to the central coast (without a licence). I’d also like to thank Paul Popescu for doing a fantastic job representing me on a serious driving charge, he gave me clear instructions on what I needed to do and he was spot on, I received the best possible sentence. I would highly recommend Fourtree Lawyers, they travel all over NSW.
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I was recommend to Fourtree Lawyers from a friend whom also experienced a serious driving infringement. My situation was slightly more serious, being charged with drive while suspended, shared with a reasonably extensive driving record, meant my chances of driving home were minimal. Kevin’s realistic and knowledgeable approach not only prepared & educated me upon all possible verdicts, but also supported me with all possible optimistic outcomes. Kevin’s extensive knowledge of the legal system, combined with the understanding of the Judges expectations, and vast life experience resulted with an outstanding result,...
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