Since 31 March 2020, residents of New South Wales (NSW) have been subject to strict COVID-19 lockdown rules and restrictions. Residents have been ordered to stay at home unless they have a ‘reasonable excuse’ for leaving. In the Public Health Order, the NSW government described ‘reasonable excuses’ as:

  • obtaining food or other goods and services
  • travelling to work or for education purposes, only where the person cannot do it at home
  • exercise
  • medical or caring reasons
  • the full list of reasonable excuses provided by the NSW Government can be found here

Further to the above, a person must not participate in a gathering in a public place of more than 2 persons. Exceptions to this include:

  • gatherings of household members; and
  • gatherings which are essential for work or education.

These orders are in addition to the pre-existing ‘social distancing rules’ whereby if a person leaves their home, they must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others.

What you can and cannot do in NSW

Due to the broad nature of the COVID-19 lockdown rules and restrictions, the nation has been subject to profound confusion as to what you can and cannot do. To add to the confusion, individual states and territories have varying rules and infringements.
To put your mind at ease, we have compiled a general list summarising what you can do (as long as social distancing measures are complied with) and what you cannot do in NSW.

What you can doWhat you cannot do
Visit a “romantic partner”Have a social catch-up with family or friends that are not household members
As a learner driver, learn to drive and get hours loggedGather in a public place with more than two people
Children across two households can continue to switch between housesGo for a drive, unless it is for a ‘reasonable excuse’
Go to the supermarket/grocer to obtain foodTake a holiday in a regional area
Obtain takeaway from a café/restaurantGo camping
Go to the pharmacist/shops to obtain medical productsAttend a pub, registered club, casino, micro-brewery or distillery or gaming lounge
Exercise indoors or outdoorsDine in at a food and/or drink premises
Travel a short distance for exercise purposes e.g. to go surfing at an open beachAttend entertainment facilities or amusement centres
Take your dog for a walkAttend places of public worship, except for a wedding (5 people or less) or a funeral (10 people or less)
Go fishing for work or passive exercise Go swimming in a public pool
Attend work, where you cannot work from homeAttend any public playgrounds, outdoor gymnasium or skate parks
Attend your education provider, where you cannot be educated from homeReceive services from a spa, nail salon, beauty salon, waxing salon, tanning salon, tattoo parlours or massage parlours
Attend a wedding with five or less peopleAttend a house auction, open house inspection or betting agency
Attend a funeral with ten or less people (including the person conducting the service)Play a team sport
Move houseHost at premises which does not provide 4 square meters of space for each person on the premises
Provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
Provide emergency assistance
Donate blood
Fulfil a legal obligation (e.g. attend court or tribunal)
Go to the dentist, for dental emergencies
Take your pet to the vet
Travel for any of the above purposes

What happens if you break the rules?

  • Generally, enforcement is up to the discretion of police officers.
  • Police have the power to give on the spot fines of $1,000 for persons, plus an additional $5,500 fine each day the offence continues.
  • Corporations who ignore COVID-19 restrictions can be fined $5,000.
  • If the matter goes to court, courts can impose a maximum penalty of $11,000 and six months jail time against individuals. For corporations, the maximum penalty is $55,000.

Further information

If you would like further information or assistance in relation to any legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced solicitors on 9963 9800 or via email at