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Queensland’s COVID-19 home confinement restrictions

Potts Lawyers > Corona Virus Laws  > Queensland’s COVID-19 home confinement restrictions

— Queensland’s COVID-19 home confinement restrictions

QUEENSLAND’S COVID-19 HOME CONFINEMENT, MOVEMENT AND GATHERING DIRECTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article refers to the Home Confinement Restrictions as at 2 April 2020.  This direction has since been amended. Please visit this link to see the latest updates in relation to the Home Confinement, Movement and Gathering Direction: https://pottslawyers.com.au/blog/2020/05/01/easing-of-covid-19-restrictions-in-qld-as-of-2nd-may-2020/.

Further to our recent blog post, we thought we’d share some more information with you in relation to Queensland’s most recent Covid-19 Home Confinement, Movement and Gathering Direction and how it applies to you. Bear in mind that the laws are changing rapidly and open to interpretation. This is general information only and we recommend getting advice tailored to your particular circumstances.

WHAT IS THE HOME CONFINEMENT REQUIREMENTS IN QUEENSLAND?

A person who resides in Queensland must not leave their principal place of residenceexcept for, and only to the extent reasonably necessary to accomplish, the following permitted purposes:

  1. to obtain food or other essential goods or services;
  2. to obtain medical treatment or other health care services;
  3. to engage in physical exercise;
  4. to perform work or volunteering, or carry out or conduct an essential business, activity or undertaking, and the work, business activity or undertaking to be performed is of a nature that cannot reasonably be performed from the person’s principal place of residence;
  5. to visit another person’s residencein accordance with the relevant rules about visitors (see below);
  6. education and early childhood workers may travel to and from their home centre over the term 1 break;
  7. to visit a terminally ill relative or to attend a funeral or wedding, subject to any applicable restrictions under other relevant Public Health Directions;
  8. to provide assistance, care or support to an immediate family member;
  9. to attend any court or tribunal of Australia or to comply with or give effect to orders of the court or tribunal of Australia;
  10. to attend a childcare facility, school, university, or other educational institution, to the extent care or instruction cannot reasonably be obtained in the person’s principal place of residence;
  11. to assist with or participate in an investigation or other action by a law enforcement authority, whether voluntarily or not;
  12. for children under 18 years who do not live in the same household[1]as their biological parents or siblings or one of their parents or siblings, continuing existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children and siblings, but not allowing access or contact with vulnerable groups or persons;
    Example of a vulnerable group or person – a person over 70 years or a person with a medical condition that makes them vulnerable to COVID-19
  13. avoiding injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm;
    Example – escaping a risk of harm related to domestic and family violence;
  14. to comply with or give effect to the exercise of a power or function of a government agency or entity under a law.

The Queensland Chief Health Officer may grant an exemption to part or all of these directions on compassionate grounds or for other exceptional circumstances.

WHAT ARE THE RULES ABOUT HAVING VISITORS AT YOUR HOME?

One of the permitted purposes for a person who resides in Queensland to leave their principal place of residence is to visit another person’s residence, but restrictions apply!

The earlier directive released on 29 March 2020 was very strict and caused difficulty for many people. It didn’t allow for a person to stay at their partner’s home, it didn’t allow for children who might have two residences that they spent their time between, etc

As such, the Government has relaxed the laws to allow visitors into your home.

If you are an owner, resident[2], tenant[3], occupier, temporary occupier or person in control of a residence, you may allow up to two visitors who are not ordinarily members of the person’s household. However, you MUST take reasonable steps to encourage occupants of, and visitors to, the premises to practise social distancing to the extent reasonably practicable.

The examples provided as to visitors allowed in your home are family members or close friends. It is important to bear in mind why these rules are in place.

The law states you must take reasonable steps to encourage occupants and visitors to practice social distancing to the extent reasonably practicable. “Social distancing” includes remaining at least 1.5 metres away from other persons, regular washing of hands and avoiding handshaking.

It has also been clarified that this rule does notprevent workers or volunteers entering a place of residence and they are not counted as visitors for the purpose of that exception. For example, you may have two tradespeople in your home doing work, whilst also having one friend visit.

It is important to note that this rule about visitors to your home does not apply to a residential aged care facility[4], corrective services facility[5]or detention centre[6].

The Aged Care Direction given on 21 March 2020 and the Corrective Services Facility Direction given on 22 March 2020 restrict visitors to those facilities. Other Public Health Directions may be made applying to other types of facilities.

This visitors rule also does not apply to a residence of a person with disability if it is necessary for more than two people to attend the residence to provide services to the person with disability to meet their support needs.

IT SAYS I CAN LEAVE HOME FOR ESSENTIAL GOODS OR SERVICES. WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL GOODS OR SERVICES?

Food and other supplies, and services, that are needed for the necessities of life and operation of society, such as food, fuel, medical supplies, and other goods.

IF I LEAVE MY RESIDENCE FOR ONE OF THE “PERMITTED PURPOSES”, CAN ANYONE TRAVEL WITH ME?

If you leave your principal place of residence for a permitted purpose you may be accompanied by members of your household or alternatively, you may be accompanied by one person who isn’t a member of your household.  

Members of your household are defined as “persons who ordinarily live at the same residence, including if family or kinship customs or cultural obligations have the effect of a person living across multiple residences”.

For example – you could take someone that lives in your household with you to get groceries or you could leave your home to exercise with your partner, even if they don’t live with you.

There is an exception to this restriction if a person requires physical assistance to leave their principal place of residence or  it is reasonably necessary for the safety of the person or the public BUT only if there is no other reasonable way for a permitted purpose to be achieved. That exceptions says, in those limited circumstances, a person may be accompanied by more than one person who is not a member of their household and who is a carer or support worker for that person.

For example, a person with a disability may be accompanied by more than one carer or support worker to get medical assistance, etc.

WHAT IS AN ESSENTIAL BUSINESS, ACTIVITY OR UNDERTAKING?

It is business, activity or undertaking that is not prohibited by the Non-essential business, activity and undertaking Closure Direction (No.4)(the most recent Public Health Direction at the time of publishing) or another Public Health Direction.

Currently, examples of non-essential businesses or activities include beauty therapy, tanning, waxing and nail salons, tattoo parlours, cinemas, nightclubs, theme parks, boot camps or PT (if there is more than 2 people or social distancing is not being observed), public playgrounds, places of worship (unless for a funeral or wedding, and then only under the restrictions) and many other businesses and activities.

For a detailed list, see: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/system-governance/legislation/cho-public-health-directions-under-expanded-public-health-act-powers/non-essential-business-closure-direction

IT SAYS I CANNOT LEAVE MY PRINCIPAL PLACE OF RESIDENCE. WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF PRINCIPAL PLACE OF RESIDENCE?

For a person who permanently resides in Queensland, the principal place of residence is the residence where the person ordinarily resides.

For a person who temporarilyresides in Queensland, it is the residence where the person ordinarily resides when the person in present in Queensland.

“Residence” means premises used, or intended to be used, as a dwelling or mainly as a dwelling, and includes the land on which the residence is situated, and includes:

  • a single detached dwelling;
  • each of one or more attached dwellings that are separated by a common wall;
    • Examples include a villa unit, townhouse, terrace house, row house, unit in an apartment block.
  • A manufactured home as defined in section 10 of the Manufactured Homes (Residential Parks) Act 2003;
  • a caravan as defined in section 7 of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008;
  • any other building or structure situated on the same land as the premises or dwelling.
    • Examples include a shed, pool house, carport, granny flat. But does not include a corrective services facility[7]or detention centre[8].

The directive also makes it clear that the definition of ‘residence’ does not include a residential aged care facility[9], corrective services facility or detention centre.

WHAT ARE THE RULES ABOUT GATHERINGS IN PLACES OTHER THAN A RESIDENCE?

A person who owns, controls or operates premises, other than a residence, must not organise or allow a gathering to occur on the premises.

In other words if you own, control or operate a building or structure, part of a building or structure, a vehicle, caravan, land or vessel that is not a residence, you must not allow a gathering to occur there.

HOW DO I KNOW WHAT A GATHERING IS?

A “gathering” means a gathering of more than two persons in a single undivided outdoor space or in a single undivided indoor space at the same time.

There are some exceptions to this rule where gatherings may still occur. The following are not considered a “gathering” for the purposes of this direction and therefore are still allowed:

  • at an airport that is necessary for the normal business of the airport;
  • for the purposes of or related to public transportation, including in vehicles or at public transportation facilities such as stations, platforms and stops;
  • at a medical or health service facility that is necessary for the normal business of the facilities;
  • for the purposes of emergency services;
  • at a residential aged care facility or residence of a person with a disability, that is necessary for the normal business of the facility or residence;
  • at a prison, correctional facility, youth justice centre or other place of custody;
  • at a court or tribunal;
  • at Parliament for the purpose of its normal operations;
  • at a food market, supermarket, grocery store, retail store or shopping centre that is necessary for the normal business of those premises;
  • at a workplace, including but not limited to an office building, factory, manufacturing facility, resource extraction, mine or mineral processing facility, utilities or construction sites that is necessary for the normal operation of those premises;
  • at a school, university, educational institution or childcare facility that is necessary for the normal business of the facility;
  • at a hotel, motel or accommodation facility, such as a worker camp, that is necessary for the normal operation of accommodation services;
  • at a wedding or funeral permitted under the Non-essential business, activity and undertaking Closure Direction (No. 4), or its successor, or another Public Health Direction;
  • at an outdoor place where persons may be present for the purposes of transiting through the place (for example, Queen Street Mall);
  • at an indoor place where persons may be present for the purposes of transiting through the place (for example, Central Station);
  • a gathering specified as exempt from this direction by the Chief Health Officer in writing.

An “Indoor space” has been defined as an area, room or premises that is or are substantially enclosed by a roof and walls, regardless of whether the roof or walls or any part of them are permanent or temporary or open or closed. An “outdoor space” means a space that isn’t an indoor space.

WHEN DID IT TAKE EFFECT?

The Chief Health Officer issued this Public Health Direction pursuant to the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) and it took effect at 11.59pm Thursday 2 April 2020.

This replaced the following former Public Health Directions:

  • the Home Confinement Direction given on 29 March 2020;
  • the Mass Gatherings Direction (No 2) given on 21 March 2020;
  • the Restrictions in Private Residences Direction given on 27 March 2020.

HOW LONG WILL IT APPLY?

The direction will apply while there is a “public health emergency” which is until 19 May 2020, and may be extended beyond that date. Unless of course it is revoked or replaced by a different directive. For example, the previous directive issued on 29 March has already been revoked and replaced by this direction.

WHO DOES IT APPLY TO?

The public health emergency area is “all of Queensland”. So it applies to every person in Queensland, regardless of whether or not you are a permanent resident of Queensland.

DO I NEED TO TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY?

Yes you do. Section 362D of the Public Health Act 2005 creates an offence for failure to comply with a public health direction, like the one outlined above.

A person to whom a public health direction applies must comply with the direction unless the person has a reasonable excuse.

Maximum penalty—100 penalty units.

A penalty unit is $133.45, so that is a maximum penalty of $13,345.

You could be issued an on the spot fine (infringement notice) or you could be charged and required to attend court in relation to the offence.

WILL POLICE ACTUALLY FINE ME IF I DON’T COMPLY?

Yes. In late March, the Queensland Police Service (QPS) issued the first two infringement notices in Queensland. Under the Chief Health Officer’s directions, massage parlours are deemed a non-essential service and therefore are unable to continue to operate.

Detectives from the Major and Organised Crime Squad found a business in Brisbane offering prostitution services on 30 March, despite the directive prohibiting such a business from operating.

The business was issued an on the spot fine of $6,672.50 for failing to comply with the public health direction and an employee of the business was issued an on the spot infringement notice for $1,334.50 for her failure to comply with the public health directive.

WHAT IF I AM FINED? OR GIVEN A NOTICE TO ATTEND COURT?

We can help. The law states that it is an offence unless you have a reasonable excuse.

If you don’t think you should have been charged or fined for failure to comply with the direction, please contact us so we can provide you with advice.

It is important that if you are considering contesting the matter that you get advice swiftly. If you pay the fine, or don’t take any steps in the required time frame (usually 28 days), it may be too late to get advice.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

You can find out more by:

  • Heading to the Potts Lawyers or Lady Crim Lawyers Facebook Page; or
  • Checking out our Instagram pages (@pottslawyers and @lady.crim.lawyers); or
  • Calling one of our criminal lawyers on 5532 3133 – we would be happy to talk you through your options.

[1]“Household” means persons who ordinarily live at the same residence, including if family or kinship customs or cultural obligations have the effect of a person living across multiple residences.

[2]“Resident” has the meaning given in section 14 of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008(Qld).

[3]“Tenant” has the meaning given in section 13 of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (Qld).

[4]“Residential aged care facility” means a facility at which accommodation, and personal care or nursing care or both, are provided to a person in respect of whom a residential care subsidy or a flexible care subsidy is payable under the Aged Care Act 1997of the Commonwealth.

[5]“Corrective services facility” has the same meaning as in the Corrective Services Act 2006(Qld).

[6]“Detention centre” has the same meaning as in the Youth Justice Act 1992.

[7]“Corrective services facility” has the same meaning as in the Corrective Services Act 2006(Qld).

[8]“Detention centre” has the same meaning as in the Youth Justice Act 1992.

[9]“Residential aged care facility” means a facility at which accommodation, and personal care or nursing care or both, are provided to a person in respect of whom a residential care subsidy or a flexible care subsidy is payable under the Aged Care Act 1997of the Commonwealth.

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