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

  • $1000 for breach of a public health order
  • $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, provide true and accurate information to a contact tracer, and for spitting or coughing on a public official or other worker.
  • $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.
  • $5000 for providing, displaying, or producing information or evidence showing a person is fully vaccinated (such as vaccination evidence) that is not true and accurate.

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.

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 $5000 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 a range of businesses. A list of businesses which are required to collect contact details can be found on Mandatory electronic check in

Registering a positive RAT result

From 12 January 2022, people are required to register a COVID-19 positive result from a rapid antigen test (RAT) through Service NSW.  

From 19 January 2022, it will be an offence to fail to register a positive result from a RAT test through Service NSW. A fine of $1000 may apply if you fail to register a positive result.  

You must also ensure that you register your RAT result correctly and provide correct information to Service NSW. It is an offence to provide false or misleading information under Part 5A of the Crimes Act


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