The New COVID Rules in Greater Sydney: Masks, Restrictions and Penalties

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The New COVID Rules in Greater Sydney: Masks, Restrictions and Penalties

As a result of new Covid cases in Sydney, New South Wales Health has issued a new public health order, which is currently in effect.

Focus on enforcement

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned that police will be strictly enforcing the new rules,  which she says is meant to prevent the current outbreak from becoming worse.

The rules are the toughest New South Wales has experienced since the Covid outbreak over Christmas 2020, which forced the Northern Beaches into lockdown.

The current restrictions apply to the Greater Sydney Region which includes the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour.

Essential travel only for Greater city residents

Under the rules, those who live or work in the City of Sydney are prohibited from travelling beyond city limits, unless they have a reasonable excuse to travel.

Reasonable excuses are:

  • Travelling to your home, work, education, childcare or for shared parenting arrangements, shopping for food or accessing services that you cannot obtain in metropolitan Sydney, and
  • Travelling to obtain medical care, health supplies, to fulfil caring responsibilities or for an emergency situation.

Moving home or business is permitted, and so is inspecting a new place of residence or business.

However, taking a holiday is not considered a reasonable excuse, and trips outside of the area to regions are banned.

In Sydney itself, venues are expected to have a Covid Safety Plan in place, otherwise the 4 metre rule per person applies, with a maximum of 25 people in the venue.

The one person per four square metres rule also applies to weddings and funerals.

The penalty for breaching a public health order is $1000 for individuals and $5000 for businesses if the matter is dealt with by way of a criminal infringement notice, or 6 months in prison and/or an $11,000 fine for individuals or a $55,000 for companies if the case goes to court.

Events and entertainment facilities

In cinemas, theatres and other indoor venues, capacity is limited to fifty percent; otherwise, the one person per four square metres rule applies.

Outdoor seated events have also been limited to fifty percent of capacity.

Dancing classes and gyms must limit capacity to 20 people per class, and masks must be worn.

The number of people permitted to travel on public transport has also been reduced.

Singing and Dancing

Singing and dancing is also prohibited, with the exception of weddings, where the bridal party is permitted to dance.

 Can I have visitors at home?

Currently, visitors to homes are restricted to five people at any one time.

An overnight stay as part of a visit to someone’s house is permitted.

Hosts are legally responsibility for complying with the rules, and the penalties for breaching a public health order apply if maximum numbers are exceeded.

Masks are mandatory

Masks are mandatory for public transport and shopping, as well as all indoor non-residential settings, including workplaces and gyms.

Wearing masks is also mandatory at organised outdoor events.

The fine for not wearing a mask is $200.

There are currently at least 18 locally acquired cases in Sydney, and despite having highly successful contract tracing procedures in place, one ‘mystery’ transmission is still baffling health authorities.

Most of the new cases are the Delta variant of the virus which is highly contagious, only taking about five or ten seconds of exposure to be transmitted.

Almost 50 cases have so far been linked to an infected limousine driver who tested positive a week ago.

Restrictions to be reviewed in a week

For this reason, health authorities are asking Greater Sydney residents to have patience during the lockdown and do the right thing. Current Public Health Restrictions will be reviewed in a week.

It’s a blow to the residents of New South Wales, with school holidays due to start, thousands of people will have travel plans upended, although the ski fields are already exceptionally busy and there are fears that the virus could become problematic in Thredbo and Perisher.

Currently there are also border restrictions in place for people who live and work in the Greater Sydney region, or who have recently visited there.

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Sonia Hickey

Sonia Hickey is a freelance writer, magazine journalist, and owner of 'Woman with Words'. She has a strong interest in social justice and is a member of the Sydney Criminal Lawyers® content team. Sonia is the winner of the Mondaq Thought Leadership Awards, Spring 2022.

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