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Legislation and penalties

Information on the legislation that helps to monitor, respond to and protect the community from outbreaks of COVID-19.

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To deal with the public health risk of COVID-19 and its possible consequences, the Minister for Health and Medical Research has made a number of public health orders, under section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010.

Visit NSW  Legislation: COVID-19 related legislation for current orders, amendments and exemptions.

Penalties for breaching public health orders

Breach of orders made under the Public Health Act 2010 is a criminal offence and attracts heavy penalties.

In the case of an individual, the maximum penalty is $11,000, or imprisonment for 6 months, or both and a further $5500 penalty may apply for each day the offence continues.

The NSW Police may also issue on-the-spot fines to individuals of

  • $1,000 for breach of a public health order
  • $3,000 for participating in an outdoor gathering of more than 2 people
  • $500 for failure to comply with a direction to wear or carry a mask for those aged 18 years or older
  • $80 for failure to comply with a direction to wear or carry a mask for those aged 16 or 17 years of age
  • $40 for failure to comply with a direction to wear or carry a mask for those aged 15 or younger
  • $5000 for failure to comply with the obligation to answer questions asked by a contact tracer, provide your name and contact details to a contact tracer, and provide true and accurate information to a contact tracer
  • $5000 for failure to comply with obligations to self-isolate if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, including staying at home or in hospital, as determined by a doctor, nurse or paramedic;  providing details of contact with other persons and places you have visited; and complying with NSW Health guidelines 
  • $5000 for failure to comply with obligations to self-isolate if you are a close contact of a person diagnosed with COVID-19, including staying at home up to 14 days, as determined by a doctor, nurse or paramedic; submitting to testing for COVID-19; and complying with NSW Health guidelines.

In the case of any corporation, the maximum penalty is $55,000 and a further $27,500 penalty may apply for each day the offence continues.

Businesses that do not allow employees that can reasonably work from home to do so face a fine of up to

  • $10,000 for corporations
  • $2,000 for individuals. 

Penalties for spitting and coughing

Penalties apply to people who intentionally spit at or cough on

  • a public official
  • another worker while the worker is at work or travelling to or from work

in a way that would reasonably be likely to cause fear about the spread of COVID-19.

The NSW Police may issue an on-the-spot fine of $5,000 to individuals for this offence.

Workers who are covered by this rule include police, hospital staff and other health workers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, ride share drivers, food delivery workers, security guards and postal delivery staff.

Reporting a breach of the rules

You can report any person failing to follow these rules to Crime Stoppers.

Contact Tracing

If a contact tracer engaged by NSW Health contacts you, you must:  

  • answer questions or provide information about your movements
  • provide your contact details (including your name and phone number or email address)
  • provide true and accurate information

Keeping electronic records

If you are the occupier of any of the premises at which check-in is required you need to take reasonable steps to ensure people can provide their contact details to when they enter your premises. 

If a person who is required to provide their contact details electronically cannot do so because of age, disability or language barrier, another person may provide the details on their behalf. 

If it is not possible for a person to check in using a device, then an occupier must have an alternate sign-in method at their premises. The alternate sign-in method must record the contact details of the person and be kept ready and available for a minimum period of 28 days to provide to NSW Health if requested.

If you receive a request from NSW Health, you must provide the contact details in an electronic format within four hours of being asked.

Compulsory electronic records

Electronic entry recording is compulsory for

  • amusement centres
  • aquariums
  • business premises
    • an occupation, profession or trade is carried on for the provision of services directly to members of the public on a regular basis, or
    • a service is provided directly to members of the public on a regular basis 
    • premises that were previously required to ensure customers check-in, such as auction houses, nail salons, beauty salons, hairdressing salons, waxing salons, tanning salons, spas, tattoo parlours and massage parlours, are still included
  • childcare centres (but not the children who attend the service)
  • construction sites
  • crematoria
  • drive-in cinemas
  • entertainment facilities
  • function centres
  • hospitality venues:
    • casinos
    • food and drink premises
    • micro-breweries, small distilleries holding a drink on-premises authorisation under the Liquor Act 2007 and cellar door premises
    • pubs, small bars and registered clubs
  • hospitals (excluding where the hospital has an electronic entry recording system)
  • hotel or motel accommodation (excluding residents or overnight guests who have checked in)
  • industrial premises used for
    • manufacturing, production, assembling, altering, formulating, repairing, renovating, ornamenting, finishing, cleaning, washing, dismantling, transforming, processing, recycling, adapting or servicing of, or the research and development of, any goods, substances, food, products or articles for commercial purposes, and includes any storage or transportation associated with the activity, or
    • handling, treating, production, processing, storage or packing of animal or plant agricultural products for commercial purposes
  • information and education facilities
  • nightclubs
  • office premises, where administrative, clerical, technical, professional or similar activities are carried out (but not dealing with members of the public directly) 
  • Parliament House
  • party buses
  • places of public worship
  • preschools (but not the students)
  • properties operated by the National Trust or the Historic Houses Trust
  • public swimming pools
  • recreation facilities (indoor)
  • recreation facilities (major)
  • Residential care facilities or hostels, but not residents
  • retail premises (including premises that hire items or goods or sell wholesale)
  • school, university or other educational institutions (excluding students entering the school)
  • sex on premises venues, being restricted premises where sex between patrons is permitted on the premises
  • sex services premises
  • shopping centres
  • storage premises
  • strip clubs
  • vehicles used as taxis or hire vehicles
  • vessels used for hosting functions or for commercial tours
  • warehouse or distribution centres
  • zoological parks and reptile parks.

Events where check-in is required

  • COVID-19 safe outdoor public gathering
  • controlled outdoor public gatherings
  • agricultural shows or agricultural field days
  • funerals and memorial services and gatherings after funerals and memorial services
  • religious services and gatherings after religious services
  • wedding services and gatherings after wedding services.


You are not required to check in when you enter any of the above premises if you are entering: 

  • to provide emergency services 
  • by vehicle if you do not leave your vehicle
  • you are under 18 years of age and it is not possible to register your contact details
  • to exercise law enforcement, intelligence or national security functions on behalf of a NSW Government or Australian Government agency
  • a health or medical facility (other than a pharmacy) as a patient
  • a farm.


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