Police Powers on Public Gatherings

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Police Powers to Enforce Restrictions on Public Gatherings and Movement

On Tuesday, 31 March 2020 new laws came into effect in New South Wales. Under the Public Health Act 2010 the NSW Minister for Health and Medical Research has issued the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020.

There are two broad categories of restriction contained in the Legislation being a restriction on people’s movement outside their home and a restriction on people grouping in numbers greater than 2 in public.

Part 1 – directs that people are not to leave their home without reasonable excuse and reasonable excuse is defined as:

  1. Obtaining food or other goods and services; or
  2. Travelling for the purposes of work or education if it is not possible to do it at home; or
  3. Exercise; or
  4. Medical or caring reasons.

Part 2 – restricts people from gathering in groups larger than 2 persons save for:

  1. A gathering of persons for the purposes of work;
  2. A gathering of persons all of whom are members of the same household;
  3. A gathering for a wedding at which there are no more than 5 persons (including the person conducting the service);
  4. A gathering for a funeral service at which there are no more than 10 persons (including the person conducting the service);
  5. A gathering to facilitate a move to a new place of residence (including a business moving to new premises);
  6. A gathering to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person;
  7. A gathering to provide emergency assistance; or
  8. A gathering necessary for the person to fulfil a legal obligation (including attending a court or tribunal, satisfying bail requirements or participating in legal proceedings).

The Legislation further sets out which business premises and public spaces are presently restricted from opening whatsoever and the limits that apply to businesses which remain open.

If you have any concerns related to the operation of your business then we would recommend taking prompt legal advice as to the effect of the Legislation upon your business.

These new powers are in addition to those announced last week allowing Police to issue fines for people found not to be observing the social distancing rules or for disobeying a self-quarantine directive.

We have received many enquiries as to whether or the restrictions on movement and meeting prevent separated parents from effecting changeover with children in accordance with existing arrangements or Orders.

Schedule 1. to the Legislation specifically exempts such changeover from sanction and parents should endeavour to make all reasonable adjustments necessary in order to give effect to existing arrangements and Orders. If you have any questions regarding the effect of the restrictions upon your co-parenting relationship and the time the child is to spend with the other parent please contact us to discuss.

At Equilaw we are committed to assisting our local community during these difficult times and should you have any questions related to these new restrictions please contact our office on 02 6542 5566 for a telephone appointment. Stay safe.

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