Updated 3 April 2020
In this rapidly changing environment, it can be difficult to understand what you can and cannot do in your day-to-day activities. After all, what the Prime Minister says in a press conference isn’t binding on Queenslanders until and unless a direction is made under the Public Health Act 2005.
The Public Health Act 2005 (‘the Act’) allows the Queensland government and health professionals to exercise certain powers in situations like that of the coronavirus outbreak.
On 19 March 2020, the Act was amended to insert a chapter granting the chief health officer the power to make directions in respect of the COVID-19 emergency.
Section 362B(2) allows the chief health officer to give directions which:
On 2 April 2020, the chief health officer issued the ‘home confinement, movement and gathering direction’ – the most restrictive direction so far.
It is to be noted that there are currently multiple, concurrent directions in force; such as the ‘school and early childhood service exclusion direction’ and the ‘non-essential business, activity and undertaking closure direction (no.4)’.
People are prohibited from leaving their residence except for permitted purposes.
The permitted purposes are:
You can accomplish these ‘permitted purposes’ with members of your household or alternatively, with one person who is not in your household.
If you require physical assistance to leave your principal place of residence, or it’s reasonably necessary for your safety or the public’s safety, and there is no other reasonable way for you to be able to accomplish the ‘permitted purposes’, you can be accompanied by more than one person (who is not a member of your household) and who is a carer or support worker.
You may allow two visitors, who are not ordinarily members of your household (i.e. friends and extended family) to visit, but you must take reasonable steps to encourage occupants and visitors to practice social distancing to the extent reasonably practicable.
This doesn’t apply to residential aged care facilities, corrective services facilities or detention centres.
If you fail to comply with a direction, an ‘emergency officer’ may, with necessary and reasonable force, take action to enforce the requirement or direction.
There is an offence under section 362D of the Act for failing to comply with a public health direction.
In order to establish the offence, the police must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you:
The maximum penalty is a fine of $13,345.00.
Police and ‘emergency officers’ can choose to give you an infringement notice for this offence.
Currently, for an individual the fine is $1,334.50 and for a corporation the fine is $6,672.50.
If you receive an infringement notice you have 28 days to pay the fine or enter into a voluntary repayment plan with the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER).
Alternatively, if you disagree with the infringement notice, you can ask to have the offence heard by a court.
We continue to provide the best criminal law services during the coronavirus outbreak.
Our team is fully equipped to work remotely whilst still delivering high-quality legal services.
We are working closely with the courts and our colleagues to ensure services to all new and existing clients are delivered efficiently and with as little disruption as possible.
You can contact us by phone or email to arrange a telephone or videoconference consultation.
Phone: 07 3361 0222 (24/7)
You can find the most recent ‘Coronavirus and Client Services’ updates by clicking here.
This article is of a general nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require further information, advice or assistance for your specific circumstances, please contact Gilshenan & Luton, Criminal Lawyers Brisbane and Sunshine Coast, Queensland.