To deal with the public health risk of COVID-19 and its possible consequences, the Minister for Health and Medical Research has made a number of Orders, under section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010. Orders can be amended frequently. For the most up to date orders, and the history of each order, visit NSW Legislation - COVID-related legislation.

For help in understanding the public health orders, refer to NSW Government: What you can and can't do under the rules and Industry guidelines for COVID Safe workplaces or NSW Health - Directions under the Public Health Act (Easy read).

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Border control: Persons who have been in South Australia within the last 14 days

The Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control – South Australia) Order 2020 commenced at 12.01am 19 November following recent community transmission of COVID-19 in South Australia. The order applies to people entering NSW who have been in South Australia in the last 14 days. An affected person:

  • will not be able to enter NSW if they have been in a COVID-19 area of concern, unless they are:
  • will be required to sign a declaration prior to entering NSW, provide their contact details (to allow for contact tracing if required)
  • must ensure the information is true and accurate when completing an interstate traveller self-declaration
  • must complete the self-declaration within the 24 hours immediately before entry to NSW, or upon entering NSW
  • must complete a new interstate traveller self-declaration each time they enter NSW – but is not required to complete more than 1 interstate traveller self-declaration on a calendar day
  • must carry documentation evidence of completing the interstate self-declaration form and provide information to police on request
  • must provide information to NSW Health on request for contact tracing purposes.

COVID-19 areas of concern are an area or place specified by the Chief Health Officer as an area of concern and published on Service NSW. These align with areas and places that the SA Government has identified as areas where a person must self isolate if they have been there.

To complete a NSW entry declaration form visit Service NSW.

Spitting and coughing

Public Health (COVID-19 Spitting and Coughing) Order (No 3) 2020 commencing 25 September 2020 directs that a person must not intentionally spit at or cough on public officials or other workers in a way that is reasonably likely to cause fear about the spread of COVID-19.

The original order commenced 9 April 2020 and the Public Health (COVID-19 Spitting and Coughing) Order (No 2) 2020 commenced 29 June 2020.

Gathering and movement

The Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 6) 2020 contains directions on gatherings, the use of non-residential and residential premises, specific events (such as corporate events, weddings, and funerals), and community sporting activities. The Order requires certain premises to have COVID-19 safety plan that addresses the matters in a checklist approved by the Chief Health Officer. Generally, the number of people allowed on premises will be determined by the 'one person per 4 square metre rule' or, for certain significant events and premises, the 'one person per 2 square metre rule'. The Order lists gatherings that are exempt from the 4 square metre rule and directions on outdoor public gatherings.

As of 1 December, the following restrictions have been eased:

  • The maximum number of people allowed at a wedding (or a gathering following a wedding service) and a funeral (or memorial service or a gathering following a funeral or memorial service) is 300, subject to the 4 square metre rule indoors and 2 square metre rule outdoors.
  • The maximum number of people allowed at a hospitality venue that has more than 200 metres of space is the lesser of 300 persons or 1 person per 2 square metres outdoors and 1 person per 4 square metres indoors per separate area. If the premises do not have more than one separate area, then the limit will be the lesser of 300 person or 1 person per 2 square metres outdoors and 1 person per 4 square metres indoors.
  • The maximum number of people allowed at a hospitality venue that has less than 200 metres or less of space is 1 person per 2 square metres of space 
  • The maximum number of visitors allowed at residential premises is 50, though NSW Health recommends that there is no more than 30 if the residence does not have any outdoor space. There are exemptions for weddings, funerals, memorial services (or a gathering after a wedding or funeral or memorial service) or a gathering for an auction or viewing of the property.
  • The limit on people at holiday homes or short-term rentals is no more than 50 people.
  • Outdoor public gatherings are restricted to 50 people

As of 23 November, the following restrictions have been eased:

  • Up to 3000 people can attend ticketed outdoor events in enclosed areas if the audience is seated with 1 person per 2 square metres assigned seats, or 1 person per 4 square metres in an allocated seating area (e.g. where the grass is marked or on picnic rugs).
  • Up to 500 people can attend outdoor religious services if the audience is seated with 1 person per 2 square metres in assigned seats, or 1 person per 4 square metres in an allocated seating area (e.g. where the grass is marked or on picnic rugs).
  • Up to 30 singers will be permitted to sing outdoors subject to COVID-safe requirements. The audience or congregation may also sing but anyone 12 years or older must wear a mask. The limit of 5 singers remains for indoor venues.
  • The Order directs employers to allow employees to work from home if this is reasonably practical.

The Order commenced on 1 December 2020.  

Exemptions

Any request for exemption to the order will be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis.

An exemption is in place under the Order for ski resorts, which may operate for winter recreational activities including skiing and snowboarding under specific conditions as outlined in the exemption.

An exemption is in place under the Order for netball associations, to allow multiple discrete groups of no more than 500 to attend a community sporting activity, under specific conditions as outlined in the exemption.

An exemption is in place under the Order for places of public worship, funeral premises and crematoria, to allow up to 50 people on the premises if the size of the premises is insufficient to ensure there is at least 4 square metres of space for each person on the premises, under specific conditions as outlined in the exemption.

An exemption is in place under the Order for regional agricultural shows, to allow up to 5,000 attendees, under specific conditions as outlined in the exemption.

An exemption is in place under the Order to allow school special events to be held on school premises under specific conditions as outlined in the exemption.

Quarantine

Air transportation quarantine

The Public Health (COVID-19 Air Transportation Quarantine) Order (No 3) 2020 commenced on 21 September 2020. It carries over the requirements in the Public Health (COVID-19 Air Transportation Quarantine) Order (No 2) 2020 and requires a person who arrives in NSW by aircraft and who has been in a country other than Australia and New Zealand in the 14 days before their arrival to undertake a mandatory quarantine period in a quarantine/medical facility.

The No 3 Order only permits "a declared flight crew member" to self-isolate at their residence or accommodation. All other flight crew members will have to go to a quarantine facility or health facility until either the end of the quarantine period or until they fly out of NSW.

A declared flight crew member is a member of a flight crew who has:

  • provided their contact details, and place of accommodation/residence, to NSW Health before leaving the airport; and
  • provided a written declaration that the person
    • has not, within 14 days immediately before their arrival, been in contact with a person with COVID-19
    • does not have, and has not had within the preceding 72 hours, symptoms of COVID-19

Declared flight crew members must self-isolate in accordance with the NSW Health Air Transportation Guidelines until either the end of the quarantine period or until they fly out of NSW.

The quarantine period ends after 24 days. However, the quarantine period will end at any time after 14 days if the Chief Health Officer is satisfied that the person does not pose a risk of infecting another person with COVID-19. In making the assessment, the Chief Health Officer must consider any testing conducted by, or on behalf of, NSW Health.

The requirement to quarantine or self-isolate does not apply to persons arriving from New Zealand provided that the person has not been anywhere other than Australia or New Zealand in the last 14 days.

However, the Chief Health Officer will have a power to direct a person go into quarantine or leave Australia by air if the person:

  • has been in a New Zealand COVID-19 hot spot in the previous 14 days, or
  • is assessed by the Chief Health Officer to pose an unacceptable risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Maritime quarantine

Public Health (COVID-19 Maritime Quarantine) Order (No 3) 2020 commenced on 21 September 2020.

It carries over the requirements in the Public Health (COVID-19 Maritime Quarantine) Order (No 2) 2020 with some minor amendments.

Order No 3 allows a person undertaking an essential task near the wharf to disembark without prior approval of the Police Commissioner but must follow any directions of the Commissioner. Health assessment and treatment, including being tested for COVID-19, as approved by an authorised medical practitioner has been added as an essential task. This must be conducted within 13 metres of the wharf and the person must return to the vessel after the assessment.

Persons authorised to disembark for quarantine must go directly to a quarantine facility, hospital or other medical facility to undertake a quarantine period. If they are directed to go to an airport (to get a flight out of Australia), the person must follow the directions of the Commissioner while travelling to, and at, the airport.

The quarantine period starts when a person disembarks from a vessel and ends after 24 days. However, the quarantine period will end at any time after 14 days if the Chief Health Officer is satisfied that the person does not pose a risk of infecting another person with COVID-19. In making the assessment, the Chief Health Officer must consider any testing conducted by, or on behalf of, NSW Health.

See information on  exemptions for air and maritime quarantine.

Self-isolation

Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order (No 4) 2020 under the Public Health Act 2010 directs that a person diagnosed with COVID-19 must self-isolate in their residence and comply with the self isolation guidelines. They must notify the authorised contact tracer of the place they will be self-isolating and a phone number.

Furthermore, a person who has been identified, by an authorised contract tracer, as a close contact of a COVID-19 case must:

  • self-isolate for the period of time determined by the authorised contact tracer (being no more than 14 days) at their residence or other suitable premises
  • notify the authorised contact tracer of the place the person will be self-isolating and a phone number
  • comply with the NSW Health self-isolation guidelines for close contacts.

Residential Aged Care Facilities

Public Health (COVID-19 Aged Care Facilities) Order (No 3) 2020 remakes the previous Public Health (COVID-19 Aged Care Facilities) Order (No 2), subject to a minor amendment, being that persons with a temperature of 37.5 degrees or higher will not be permitted to enter a residential aged care facility.

Lord Howe Island

Public Health (COVID-19 Lord Howe Island) Order (No 4) 2020 placed restrictions on who could enter or leave Lord Howe Island and self-isolation requirements.

The order commenced on 31 August 2020 and was repealed from 2 October 2020 by Public Health (COVID-19 Lord Howe Island) Order (No 4) Repeal Order 2020.

Changes to border control - Victoria

Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Order (No 2) Amendment Order 2020 placed restrictions to limit entry into New South Wales of persons who have been in Victoria, subject to certain exceptions.

The order commenced beginning of 2 October 2020 and was amended on 15 October 2020. It was repealed at 12:01am on 23 November 2020. Travelers from Victoria are able to travel to NSW without a permit and are no longer required to self isolate or undertake quarantine.

Penalties for breaching the Public Health Order

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:

  • $4,000 for a breach of clause 6 of the Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Order 2020 - failing to provide or falsifying information to an enforcement officer
  • $5000 for a breach of the Public Health (COVID-19 Spitting and Coughing) Order (No 2) 2020
  • $1,000 in other cases.

Requesting exemptions

Current as at: Wednesday 2 December 2020
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW