One of the very first measures taken by the Federal and NSW government was on the 16 March 2020, when the NSW Health Minister made the official order under the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) to force the immediate cancellation of any major events with more than 500 people. On an daily interim by the Government, has led to further amendments.

The official number of cases in NSW is currently at 2032, with 114 new cases overnight NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian stated that she has passed sweeping new powers to stop the public leading their home without a reasonable excuse to help slow the spread of Coronavirus. Claiming that it is “too early to make the assessment that we have spread the curve

This also enacted the NSW Government to establish the ‘State Emergency Operations Centre’ (SEOC) that has experts from more than 20 vital agencies including Police, Transport and Education. This force is led by Deputy Police Commissioner and is operating on a 24/7 basis to battle the ongoing risk of COVID-19.

State of Emergency Been Declared?

A State of Emergency has not proceeded yet in NSW with regards to this COVID-19. The NSW Premier may declare this under State Emergency and Rescue Management Act 1989 (NSW) (The Emergency Act). In this Act, a State of Emergency may be applied in cases of a ‘significant and widespread danger to life or property in NSW’. The last occasion this was used was in the recent Australian Bushfire.

If this does become declared, it may remain for up to 30 days, however they may keep making the same declaration to keep the ongoing measure. The Minister of Police and Emergency Services under this Declaration may make orders such as leaving a particular premise, order the closure of streets and buildings, shutting off supply of water/gas and other substance, taking or destroying material that could be considered a risk and taking and making use of any property. These measures are made to be broad for the most severe conditions that the Minister may need in times of crisis.

The Powers enacted by Public Health under this Act

The Government of NSW has the power to deal with ‘public health risks’ within situations that arise for any risks to our public health. The NSW Health Minister has very broad powers to do any action and/or give directions that it deems necessary to manage the risks revolved around this matter. These Powers allow the Minister to make direction towards:

  • Reduce or remove the risk of COVID-19 in the region;
  • Segregate or isolate members of the public within NSW; and
  • Prevent, or give on a conditional basis, any access to any part of NSW

These orders are not permanent but rather expire after 90 days, unless if they are withdrawn or made to expire sooner.

NSW Bill to Address to Growing Rate of Coronavirus

The Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020 (NSW) was announced last night at 10:30pm by way of the Public Health Order to enact new rules to enforce social distancing. Under the Act, “a person must not, without reasonable excuse, leave the person’s place of residence”. What is considered a “reasonable excuse”? Tasks like Purchasing food or other goods and services, exercise, for work or education (if that person is unable to work at home), medical and/or caring reasons are the main purpose. The exhaustive list is listed under Schedule 1 of the Act. Any breaches of this order may be punishable by way of fine of up to $11,000 or a jail term for up to six months.

They have also directed people that they must not participate in a gathering in a public place of more than 2 persons. The exceptions towards are members of the same household and that of essential matters for work and education. The Federal Government has also advised that families as separated partners with children or couples who do not live together are in fact exempted from this two person limit. These orders have now came into effect of today and to all meant for all members of the public until further amendments are detailed.

The dean of the law faculty at the University of New South Wales, George Williams stated that “You can’t get much more extensive than that. I mean, it’s largely unchecked unfettered power that now resides in the federal health minister, and that shows the gravity of the situation”. Further these same actions are similar rush of powers vested in the wake of the September 11 attacks that was also deemed under emergency powers. These sorts of extraordinary powers should be vested but only to deal with the emergency on hand.

We must remember the very broad powers this Bill presents and what Civil Liberties are at Cost for public interest.

What should you do if you or your family receive directions under this Act?

Contact Our Office Immediately! We are specialists who prepare your case thoroughly, negotiate with the police to have the charge dropped and proceed to a defendant hearing to ensure justice is done. National Criminal Lawyers® make submission to persuade the Court on the given day why your charge should be dismissed.

National Criminal Lawyers will guide you from start to finish in your criminal matter.

Our Sydney Criminal Lawyers offer nothing short of excellent results in relation to these matters. With 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, pick up the phone and contact our office now.

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