Questions and Answers

Updated 31 March 2020

With guidelines and regulations changing almost daily, many people are confused about what they can and cannot do in regards to leaving the house.

We have put together some Questions and Answers based on the legislation that began on Tuesday, 31 March.

The legislation states that nobody can leave their house unless they have a reasonable excuse and there can be no gatherings of any more than two people except in special circumstances.

We hope this Q&A can provide some clarity on what is considered a reasonable excuse or an exemption to the two-person gathering rules.

Can I still go to the supermarket to buy groceries?

Yes you can but you need to follow the social distancing and hygiene rules while you are out. Try and limit the amount of times you go to the supermarket; only one member of your household should go; don’t leave the house if you are feeling unwell and ensure you wash your hands with soap or sanitiser as soon as you are finished.

What if I go into the supermarket and there is already two people inside?

This will be OK as long as you stick to the rules of social distancing.

What about other kinds of shopping?

You are still allowed to go to a shop if it is for an essential item for your household, however, many retail shops have already temporarily closed.

Can I still get my prescription filled or see my doctor?

Yes, you are allowed to seek medical help and pharmacies are allowed to be open but social distancing rules apply.

Can I still go on holidays at Easter time if I stay within NSW?

No, you are going to have to cancel any travel plans as the legislation specifically states that “taking a holiday in a regional area is not a reasonable excuse”.

Can I still get outside and exercise?

Yes but the two-person gathering law still applies so you cannot congregate on the beach or in the park and you can’t take part in outside exercise classes. If you do go outside to exercise make sure you stick to your local area.

What happens if I don’t follow these new laws?

Under the Public Health Act, individuals who break these laws can face a maximum penalty of imprisonment for six months or a fine of up to $11,000 – or both. Most likely you will be given an on-the-spot fine of $1000.

On top of that you can be fined a further $5500 for every day the offence continues.

Can I have more than one friend over if we stay in my house and don’t go outside?

No, the legislation also includes private property so you should not have more than one person (who is not part of your household) over at any one time.

What about if someone in my household is threatening me and I feel unsafe?

Under the legislation, you are able to leave the house and seek protection if you feel unsafe.

I have three kids, can we all walk the dog together?

Yes, the two-gathering rule does not apply to people living in the same household.

My 19-year-old son doesn’t live at home anymore, can I still see him?

Yes, contact between parents and children who do not live together is also considered a reasonable excuse.

What about visiting my parents?

Yes, close family members who live in different households are still able to see each other but people over the age of 70 have a greater risk from COVID-19 and are being advised to isolate as much as possible.

Can I meet up with other family like my aunt, uncle and cousins?

No, the family exception only applies to immediate family i.e. parents, children and siblings.

Can I still access services like Centrelink?

Yes, you can still access public services (whether provided by Government, a private provider or a non-Government organisation), including social services, employment services, domestic violence services, mental health services, and services provided to victims (including as victims of crime). Many services though, like Centrelink, are providing access online so you don’t have to leave your house.

What if I am walking through my local park and there are other people walking through it as well?

It is OK to be in an outdoors space where two or more people may be present but only for the purpose of walking through it.

I regularly give blood, can I still do this?

Yes, now more than ever our hospitals need blood so this is considered a reasonable excuse as long as you are healthy and showing no symptoms of COVID-19.

My lease is up and I really need to move house, is that still allowed?

Yes, moving house is considered a reasonable excuse and people moving house are allowed to have more than one person there to help carry the lounge, fridge or other items.

I am a carer to a vulnerable person can I leave the house for their care?

Yes, obtaining medical care, supplies, health supplies or fulfilling your carer’s responsibilities is allowed.

Can I still send my children to school and childcare?

Yes, however parents are strongly advised to keep their children at home where possible leaving schools for the children of essential workers like medical professionals.

What other exemptions are there?

Other exemptions include:

  • Undertaking legal obligations like attending court
  • A wedding at which there are no more than 5 people (including the person conducting the service).
  • A funeral service at which there are no more than 10 people (including the person conducting the service)
  • Avoiding injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm
  • For emergencies or compassionate reasons
  • A gathering at an office building, farm, factory, warehouse or mining or construction site that is necessary for work
  • Requirements for the normal business of a hospital or other medical or health service facility.