Everyone is now supposed to be practising social distancing to slow the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  We have been told to slow the spread COVID-19, we must practice social distancing.  The more we space ourselves between each other the harder it is for the virus to spread.  But what does social distancing actually mean? Essentially, it means to have less contact between you and other people. To stay home unless you have a “reasonable excuse” to leave your home.

As a result of the growing threat of the COVID-19, new laws have been put in place that has constrained people’s movement.  These new laws state you are not allowed to leave your home unless you have a “reasonable excuse”.  To read the new laws click here.

In recent weeks, more than 50 people have been charged by New South Wales and Victorian police with violating Coronavirus laws.  They were either eating a kebab on a bench, washing car windscreens or sitting stationery in a car.  You can read the whole article here.


If you breach these new laws, the police can you give an on-the-spot fine of $1,000 for an individual and $5,000 for a corporation.  If these charges are dealt with by the court, the court can give a punishment of $11,000 or six months in prison; or both.  It is an offence not to comply with Ministerial direction which states that a person must not, without reasonable excuse, fail to comply with the direction.

Police can arrest you if you contravene the public health order that relates to Covid-19.  A police officer may arrest a person if the police officer suspects on reasonable grounds that the person is contravening a public health order relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Section 71A of the Public Health Act 2010 states that a police officer may arrest a person if the police officer suspects on reasonable ground that the person contravening a public health order relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Law On Reasonable Excuse

The new law provides a list of examples of what is a reasonable excuse.  These examples include:

  • obtaining food or other goods and services, or
  • travelling for the purpose of work or education if it is not possible to do at home, or
  • exercise, or
  • medical or caring reasons.

Here are some examples of what is regarded as a reasonable excuse.

Question: I have been running as part of my exercise routine, can I still do this?

Answer: Yes.  Exercise falls under a reasonable excuse for leaving the home.

Question: Can I call my mates over and play Xbox with them?.

Answer: No.  Having a social gathering of one or two people from a different household does not constitute as a reasonable excuse.  The new laws state that you cannot participate in a gathering of more than 2 people.  Social gatherings or social activities are not considered to be a “reasonable excuse”.

Question: My mother is elderly.  Can my brother and I go and visit her and attend to her medical needs?

Answer: Yes.  This is a reasonable excuse for leaving your home.  You are providing care to a vulnerable person.

Question: Can me and my boyfriend take a holiday overseas?

Answer: No.  Taking a holiday does not fall under any reasonable excuse for leaving your home.

Question: I need new heels for work.  Can I go to the shops and buy a new pair?

Answer: Yes.  Buying new shoes is obtaining goods.  This is a reasonable excuse for leaving your home.

If you or know anyone who has been charged with not obeying the laws from the new order under the Public Health Act 2010 contact our office immediately! At National Criminal Lawyers®  our team of criminal law specialists will be able to help you understand the process and explore the possible defences.  Our friendly staff have exceptional client service and are here to negotiate with police to have the charges dropped and proceed to a defendant hearing.  National Criminal Lawyers always ensure that justice done! We have over 80% of defended hearings won and 94% no conviction record, our services are second to none! If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offence, get in contact with our office either through phone, email or facebook.


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