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.

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).

On this page

New border entry rules

Visit NSW Government – Victoria border restrictions for information on the changes for people entering NSW from Victoria according to Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Order 2020 . To apply for a permit to enter NSW from Victoria, visit Service NSW .

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

Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Order 2020 restricts who can enter NSW from Victoria.

The Order commenced on 8 July 2020, with amendments on 20 July 2020, 22 July 2020, 24 July 2020, 25 July 2020, 7 August 2020, 17 August 2020, 2 September 2020, 11 September 2020 and 16 September 2020.

Under the Order people entering NSW will generally have to obtain an entry permit and comply with the conditions on the permit or specific conditions in the Order (e.g. returning NSW residents have to self-isolate).

Special conditions are in place for people living in border regions and for people returning to NSW after entering Victoria for certain medical or hospital services.

The Order was amended on 7 August 2020 to place additional restrictions on people entering NSW from Victoria. Persons seeking entry into NSW will require a COVID-19 NSW border entry permit and some permit conditions will only allow entry through Sydney Airport. On arrival into Sydney Airport they may be subject to mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days. Fees may apply. All conditions of the permit must be complied with as well as other requirements of the Public Health Order.

The Order was also amended on 17 August 2020 to create the new permit category of "a person who is a critical service (agriculture) worker providing a critical agriculture service" where the service is

  • not able to be provided by the person remotely, and
  • not available in New South Wales within a 100 km radius of the place where the service is provided.

The permit is subject to various conditions. Critical service (agriculture) worker permits are not available to people who have been in a place under an Area Direction under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 of Victoria or a COVID-19 area of concern.

See current Areas of concern in Victoria.

The Order was amended on 2 September to:

  • redefine and expand the border region, which is shown on the Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Map (No 3)
  • create a new border region permit that will replace both the border zone permit and the critical services border region permit. The new border region permit is subject to conditions
  • expand the reasons for issuing a compassionate permit to include ‘other exceptional circumstances’, as well as providing end of life support and attending a funeral or memorial service
  • amend the definition of a NSW resident to include people moving to NSW (where they have a lease, have purchased property or entered into another arrangement to move to NSW).

The Order was amended on 11 September to allow NSW residents to use the critical service (agriculture) entry permit to travel to Victoria to provide agricultural services. This category of permit already allowed critical agriculture service workers who are residents of Victoria to enter NSW. The permit conditions include that Victorian critical agriculture service workers must not travel more than 100 km north of the border and NSW critical agriculture service workers must not travel more than 100 km south of the border. There are also self-isolation requirements for both NSW and Victorian critical agriculture service workers.

The Order was amended on 16 September to update the conditions that apply to a border zone permit. Under the changes:

  • A border zone resident is not restricted on why they enter NSW or Victoria. That is, there is no permitted purpose condition any more.
  • A Victorian border zone resident does not have to comply with the Victorian stay at home directions while in the border zone.
  • There is a new border region map. The border region is expanded to include some areas around Pleasant Hills, Lockhart, Benalla, Bright and Mount Beauty.

It will continue to be a condition that a NSW border region resident only goes to the Victorian side of the border region and vice versa. In addition, a NSW resident cannot go to an area of concern.

Further information about the implementation of the order can be found on the NSW Government website.

The Minister has signed an Exemption - Remote Communities to the Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Order 2020 allowing persons living in or near selected Remote Communities to cross the border in order to obtain essential services. The current list of communities and conditions is outlined in the exemption order.

The Minister has also signed the Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Amendment (Ongoing Medical Services) Order 2020 to allow people who are a NSW resident to return after entering Victoria for medical or hospital services except in emergency situation, where:

  • a medical practitioner has certified that the medical or hospital services are necessary to treat or maintain the person’s health
  • the service is not available locally and cannot be accessed remotely
  • the person must travel by the most practicable direct route —
    • to the place where the medical or hospital services are provided, and
    • from the place where the medical or hospital services are provided to the person’s place of residence.
  • the person must self-isolate if the person has, within the previous 14 days, been in an area that is a restricted area in accordance with an Area Direction made under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 of Victoria.

For further information see Medical practitioner certificate and advice for NSW residents seeking non-emergency medical or hospital services in Victoria.

The Minister has signed an exemption Students and Teaching Staff who Live Outside the Border Zone to the Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Order 2020 allowing students enrolled in year 11 and 12 and the staff who teach them to travel in order to attend school, both ways across the NSW / Victoria border. An exemption has also signed an exemption to the Public Health (COVID-19 Air Transportation Quarantine) Order (No 2) 2020, which means that if these persons arrive in NSW via plane, they are also exempt from the obligation to undertake a quarantine period in a quarantine hotel.

The exemption is only valid if they have not been in a restricted area or another area of concern in Victoria within the previous 14 days. Please find detail on the Victorian restricted areas .

The Minister has signed an exemption Flight Crew who have only been at a Victorian Airport allowing flight crew members who have a critical services permit and who have only been at a Victorian airport (Melbourne Tullamarine Airport or Avalon Airport) to be exempt from the self-isolation requirements. A list of specific conditions that must be fulfilled is outlined in the exemption.

If you require travel to NSW for compassionate reasons, you may apply for a Compassionate Permit with NSW Health.

Compassionate permits to enter NSW from Victoria are granted in very limited circumstances according to strict criteria. Refer to NSW COVID-19 border closure with Victoria: permit to enter on compassionate grounds for more information.

Where an affected person is required to self-isolate, they must do so at their place of residence or another suitable place and remain there until 14 days have passed since the date they were last in Victoria.

Persons in isolation must comply with the NSW Health self-isolation guidelines . There are only limited reasons a person undertaking isolation can leave their home, including to obtain medical care, comply with legal obligations, provide an essential service, in an emergency or to leave 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

Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 4) 2020

The Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 4) 2020 contains directions on gatherings, the use of non-residential and residential premises and community sporting activities. The Order lists premises requiring a COVID-19 safety plan . Generally the number of people allowed on premises will be determined by the ‘one person per 4 square metre rule’. Limits apply to weddings and funerals on residential premises.

People can participate in outdoor public gatherings of not more than 20 people. There is a 20 person limit on visitors to a home. The Order directs employers to allow employees to work from home if this is reasonably practical. The Order commenced on 1 July 2020.

The Order was amended on 16 July 2020 to place additional restrictions on pubs. Pubs must register their COVID-19 Safety Plan with the NSW Government and can only have the lesser of 300 persons or the number of persons that is equivalent to one person per 4 square metres of space in the premises. Individual groups in a pub can only have a maximum of 10 people. Contact details for each person in the pub must be collected (rather than the contact details of just one person in a group). The Order commenced on 17 July, except for the requirement on pubs to have safety plans registered which commences on 18 July.

The Order was further amended on 23 July 2020 to introduce new requirements for crematoria, hospitality venues (casinos, food and drink premises, micro-breweries, small distilleries, cellar door premises, pubs, registered clubs, small bars), funeral homes, weddings and places of public worship.

On 31 July 2020, an amendment was made to the Order to introduce new requirements for gymnasiums (that is, indoor recreation facilities excluding dance, yoga, Pilates, gymnastics or martial arts studios) including registering with the NSW Government as a COVID-19 Safe business, and having a COVID-19 Safety Hygiene Marshal on the premises if open. It further clarifies that the 4 square metre rule does not apply to a vessel used for commercial tours for scuba diving, snorkelling or whale, dolphin or marine animal watching. The Order commenced on 1 August 2020.

On 25 August 2020, an amendment was made to the Order with regard to party buses. The amendment states that a vehicle being used as a party bus is not an exempt gathering and the 4 square metre rule applies. The occupier of the party bus must have a COVID-19 safety plan that addresses the matters in the checklist for commercial vessels.

On 11 September 2020, an amendment was made to the Order regarding wedding restrictions and auctions, open houses or other inspections or viewings. The Order commenced on 14 September 2020.

  • Places of public worship can hold a wedding of up to 150 people subject to the 4 square metre rule. If a place of public worship has more than one separate area (building) on the premises, each separate area can have up to 100 people (or 150 people for a wedding) subject to the 4 square metre rule. Definitions and requirements for separate buildings are outlined in the Order.
  • The Order requires real estate agents who sell or lease property to comply with a COVID-19 Safety Plan. Persons at a place of residence to view property for sale or lease or participate in an auction are excluded from the definition of a visitor.
  • The Order clarifies that occupiers of premises can take bookings for significant events that exceed the current limits set in the Order. However at the time of the event taking place, the occupier will need to comply with the restrictions in place at that time.
  • The Order clarifies that staff are not counted in the maximum limit of people permitted at significant events (wedding, funerals, religious services and corporate events).

Any request for exemption to the order must 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 the community sporting activity, under specific conditions as outlined in the exemption.

Quarantine

Air transportation quarantine

The Public Health (COVID-19 Air Transportation Quarantine) Order (No 3) 2020 commences on 21 September 2020. It carries over the existing 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 in the 14 days before the arrival to undertake a mandatory quarantine period in a quarantine/medical facility. The No 3 Order and quarantine requirements also apply to certain people arriving from Victoria by air.

The No 3 Order will only permit “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 day immediately before arrival, been in contact with a person with COVID-19
    • does not have, and has not had with 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, NSW Health.

Maritime quarantine

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

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

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.

Self-isolation

Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order (No 3) 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

The order commenced on 23 July 2020. Any person who was in self-isolation under the previous Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order (No 2) 2020 must continue to do so.

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 places restrictions on who can enter or leave Lord Howe Island and self-isolation requirements. Refer to the Lord Howe Island self isolation guidelines.

The order commenced on 31 August 2020 and continues the access restrictions and quarantine requirements until 28 November. Anyone subject to the quarantine restrictions before 28 November must continue to self-isolate for the entire 14 days.

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
    • and $27,500 each day the offence continues.

On the spot fines can also be issued:

  • amount of $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
  • an amount of $5000 for a breach of the Public Health (COVID-19 Spitting and Coughing) Order (No 2) 2020
  • and $1,000 in other cases.

Requesting exemptions

​​​​​
Page Updated: Thursday 24 September 2020
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW