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 Orders, under section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010. Orders can be amended frequently. For the most up to date orders, and the history of each order, visit NSW Legislation - COVID-related legislation.

For help in understanding the public health orders, refer to NSW Government: What you can and can't do under the rules and Industry guidelines for COVID Safe workplaces or NSW Health - Directions under the Public Health Act (Easy read).

On this page

New border entry rules

Visit NSW Government – Victoria border restrictions for information on the changes for people entering NSW from Victoria according to Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Order (No 2) 2020 . To apply for a permit to enter NSW from Victoria, visit Service NSW .

Border control: Persons who have been in Victoria within the last 14 days

The Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Order (No 2) 2020 restricts people who have been in Victoria in the last 14 days from entering NSW.  Only people who are authorised to enter NSW under the order may do so.

Who can enter NSW?

In most cases a permit is needed to enter NSW.

People entering NSW must comply with all the conditions on their permit and any other conditions in the order.

A permit is not needed for people entering NSW to:

  • provide an emergency or law enforcement service
  • avoid injury, harm or immediate emergency
  • access medical, hospital, dental or veterinary care in an emergency
  • access the Murray River (except an embankment, dock, port or wharf on the Murray River that is on the northern side of the River)

People who may be eligible for a permit to enter NSW include:

  • returning NSW residents, who must arrive by flying to Sydney Airport and undergo at least 14 days quarantine unless entering NSW under a different entry permit
  • eligible people providing certain critical services
  • people who are:
    • eligible agricultural workers
    • members of Parliament, staff members or Consular officials
    • Victorian education visitors
    • specialist school visitors
    • boarding school students (and accompanying parent/s or guardians)
  • people who are entering NSW to:
    • undertake child access and care arrangements
    • access non-emergency medical or hospital services and are a Victorian resident
    • attend Court or meet other legal obligations imposed by a court or an Act, for example, bail or parole obligations
    • transit through NSW by air to a place outside of NSW
    • access the Murray River (except an embankment, dock, port or wharf on the Murray River that is on the northern side of the River).
  • people transiting:
    • through Victoria from South Australia, via the Sturt Highway
    • through Victoria after being a passenger on the Spirit of Tasmania (with the option of transiting by road, rail or air to Sydney airport)
    • through NSW by road to enter another State or Territory if they have lawful authority to enter the other jurisdiction (provided the person has not been in a restricted area or a COVID-19 area of concern in the last 14 days)
  • people, other than Victorian residents, entering NSW after transiting at a Victorian airport from another State or Territory and who did not leave the airport terminal in Victoria and who have not been in any part of Victoria other than the airport terminal.

There are special arrangements in place for border region residents who can travel within the border region for any reason with a current permit.

The Order was amended on 15 October 2020 to update the border region by reference to a new map approved by the Minister for Health and Medical Research.

NSW residents are permitted, when local or remote alternatives are not available, to attend Victorian healthcare facilities and providers outside the border zone. People who access such services will require a permit to return to NSW and must comply with the conditions of the permit. For further information see Medical practitioner certificate and advice for NSW residents seeking non-emergency medical or hospital services in Victoria.

For more information about border entry rules and permits, including quarantine and isolation requirements, visit NSW Government – NSW-Victoria border restrictions.

Compassionate permits

If you require travel to NSW for compassionate reasons, you may apply for a permit to enter on compassionate grounds.

Compassionate permits to enter NSW from Victoria are granted in very limited circumstances according to strict criteria.

Self-isolation

People entering NSW may be required to self-isolate until 14 days have passed since they were last in Victoria. People in isolation must comply with the NSW Health self-isolation guidelines for people entering NSW under the Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Order.

Exemptions

The Minister has also signed exemptions to the order for:

  • Remote communities allowing people living in or near select remote communities to cross the border to obtain essential services. Refer to the exemption for a list of communities and conditions. However, you may also be entitled to a border region permit, as outlined in the exemption order.
  • Year 11 and 12 students and teaching staff who live outside the border zone allowing students enrolled in year 11 or 12 (and parents/guardians), and the staff who teach them, to travel both ways across the NSW / Victoria border to attend school. An exemption to the Public Health (COVID-19 Air Transportation Quarantine) Order (No 3) 2020 is also in place, meaning that students and staff arriving in NSW via plane are also exempt from quarantine if they have not been in a restricted area or another area of concern in Victoria within the previous 14 days.
  • Flight crew who have only been at a Victorian Airport  who have a critical services permit and have only been at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport or Avalon Airport are exempt from self-isolation requirements. A list of specific conditions is in the exemption.
  • The exemption previously made by the Minister on 9 October 2020 in relation to persons transiting through Victoria from South Australia, via the Sturt Highway has been revoked with effect from 19 October 2020. Persons entering by road on the Sturt Highway have until Monday 19 October 2020 to enter NSW without a permit, after which time a permit for entry under this category is required.

For more information on exemptions to the Order, please visit http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/infectious/covid-19/Pages/border-exemptions.aspx​​

Spitting and coughing

Public Health (COVID-19 Spitting and Coughing) Order (No 3) 2020 commencing 25 September 2020 directs that a person must not intentionally spit at or cough on public officials or other workers in a way that is reasonably likely to cause fear about the spread of COVID-19.

The original order commenced 9 April 2020 and the Public Health (COVID-19 Spitting and Coughing) Order (No 2) 2020 commenced 29 June 2020.

Gathering and movement

The Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 5) 2020 contains directions on gatherings, the use of non-residential and residential premises, specific events (such as corporate events, weddings, and funerals), and community sporting activities. The Order requires certain premises to have a COVID-19 safety plan that addresses the matters in a checklist approved by the Chief Health Officer. Generally, the number of people allowed on premises will be determined by the ‘one person per 4 square metre rule’. The Order lists gatherings that are exempt from the 4 square metre rule and directions on outdoor public gatherings.

People can participate in outdoor public gatherings of not more than 20 people. There is a 20 person limit on visitors to a home, except for weddings, funerals, memorial services, or a gathering immediately after these events. The Order directs employers to allow employees to work from home if this is reasonably practical.

Generally, the number of people allowed on premises will be determined by the ‘one person per 4 square metre rule’. However, there are some other specific restrictions, including for corporate events, a funeral or memorial service or a wake, a wedding or a wedding reception, entertainment facilities, places of public worship, major recreational facilities, and hospitality venues. Staff are generally not counted in calculating the number of people permitted on the premises or at an event.

The Order commenced on 28 September 2020 (except for the provisions in relation to Lord Howe Island which commenced on 2 October 2020).

The Order was amended on 16 October 2020 to update the capacity limits for outdoor areas of hospitality venues (based on 1 person per 2 square metres in outdoor areas), to remove the limitation that corporate events must be held in function centres, to allow music rehearsals or performances in outdoor public places of more than 20 persons and to update references to COVID-19 safety checklists.

Exemptions

Any request for exemption to the order will be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis.

An exemption is in place under the Order for ski resorts, which may operate for winter recreational activities including skiing and snowboarding under specific conditions as outlined in the exemption.

An exemption is in place under the Order for netball associations, to allow multiple discrete groups of no more than 500 to attend a community sporting activity, under specific conditions as outlined in the exemption.

An exemption is in place under the Order for places of public worship, funeral premises and crematoria, to allow up to 50 people on the premises if the size of the premises is insufficient to ensure there is at least 4 square metres of space for each person on the premises, under specific conditions as outlined in the exemption.

Quarantine

Air transportation quarantine

The Public Health (COVID-19 Air Transportation Quarantine) Order (No 3) 2020 commenced on 21 September 2020. It carries over the requirements in the Public Health (COVID-19 Air Transportation Quarantine) Order (No 2) 2020 and requires a person who arrives in NSW by aircraft and who has been in a country other than Australia in the 14 days before their arrival to undertake a mandatory quarantine period in a quarantine/medical facility. The No 3 Order and quarantine requirements also apply to certain people arriving from Victoria by air.

The No 3 Order only permits "a declared flight crew member" to self-isolate at their residence or accommodation. All other flight crew members will have to go to a quarantine facility or health facility until either the end of the quarantine period or until they fly out of NSW.

A declared flight crew member is a member of a flight crew who has:

  • provided their contact details, and place of accommodation/residence, to NSW Health before leaving the airport; and
  • provided a written declaration that the person
    • has not, within 14 days immediately before their arrival, been in contact with a person with COVID-19
    • does not have, and has not had within the preceding 72 hours, symptoms of COVID-19

Declared flight crew members must self-isolate in accordance with the NSW Health Air Transportation Guidelines until either the end of the quarantine period or until they fly out of NSW.

The quarantine period ends after 24 days. However, the quarantine period will end at any time after 14 days if the Chief Health Officer is satisfied that the person does not pose a risk of infecting another person with COVID-19. In making the assessment, the Chief Health Officer must consider any testing conducted by, or on behalf of, NSW Health.

From 16 October 2020, the requirement to quarantine or self-isolate does not apply to persons arriving from New Zealand on or after 16 October 2020 provided that the person has not been anywhere other than Australia or New Zealand in the last 14 days (certain persons who have been in Victoria in the last 14 days may be required to go into quarantine if they enter NSW by air).

However, the Chief Health Officer will have a power to direct a person go into quarantine or leave Australia by air if the person:

  • has been in a New Zealand COVID-19 hot spot in the previous 14 days, or
  • is assessed by the Chief Health Officer to pose an unacceptable risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Any person who arrived from New Zealand prior to 16 October 2020 has to complete their quarantine/self-isolation.

Maritime quarantine

Public Health (COVID-19 Maritime Quarantine) Order (No 3) 2020 commences on 21 September 2020.

It carries over the requirements in the Public Health (COVID-19 Maritime Quarantine) Order (No 2) 2020 with some minor ammendments.

Order No 3 allows a person undertaking an essential task near the wharf to disembark without prior approval of the Police Commissioner but must follow any directions of the Commissioner. Health assessment and treatment, including being tested for COVID-19, as approved by an authorised medical practitioner has been added as an essential task. This must be conducted within 13 metres of the wharf and the person must return to the vessel after the assessment.

Persons authorised to disembark for quarantine must go directly to a quarantine facility, hospital or other medical facility to undertake a quarantine period. If they are directed to go to an airport (to get a flight out of Australia), the person must follow the directions of the Commissioner while travelling to, and at, the airport.

The quarantine period starts when a person disembarks from a vessel and ends after 24 days. However, the quarantine period will end at any time after 14 days if the Chief Health Officer is satisfied that the person does not pose a risk of infecting another person with COVID-19. In making the assessment, the Chief Health Officer must consider any testing conducted by, or on behalf of, NSW Health.

See information on exemptions for air and maritime quarantine.

Self-isolation

Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order (No 4) 2020 under the Public Health Act 2010 directs that a person diagnosed with COVID-19 must self-isolate in their residence and comply with the self isolation guidelines . They must notify the authorised contact tracer of the place they will be self-isolating and a phone number.

Furthermore, a person who has been identified, by an authorised contract tracer, as a close contact of a COVID-19 case must:

  • self-isolate for the period of time determined by the authorised contact tracer (being no more than 14 days) at their residence or other suitable premises
  • notify the authorised contact tracer of the place the person will be self-isolating and a phone number
  • comply with the NSW Health self-isolation guidelines for close contacts

The order commenced on 20 October 2020. Any person who was in self-isolation under the previous Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order (No 3) 2020​ must continue to do so.

Residential Aged Care Facilities

Public Health (COVID-19 Aged Care Facilities) Order (No 3) 2020 remakes, the previous Public Health (COVID-19 Aged Care Facilities) Order (No 2), subject to a minor amendment, being that persons with a temperature of 37.5 degrees or higher will not be permitted to enter a residential aged care facility.

Lord Howe Island

Public Health (COVID-19 Lord Howe Island) Order (No 4) 2020 placed restrictions on who could enter or leave Lord Howe Island and self-isolation requirements.

The order commenced on 31 August 2020 and was repealed from 2 October 2020 by Public Health (COVID-19 Lord Howe Island) Order (No 4) Repeal Order 2020.

Penalties for breaching the Public Health Order

It is an offence to not comply with a public health order and the following penalties can apply:

  • a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 6 months and/or a penalty of up to $11,000
  • plus a further $5,500 fine each day the offence continues.

Corporations that fail to comply with a direction are liable to:

  • a fine of $55,000
  • plus a further $27,500 fine each day the offence continues.

On the spot fines can also be issued:

  • $4,000 for a breach of clause 6 of the Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Order 2020 - failing to provide or falsifying information to an enforcement officer
  • $5000 for a breach of the Public Health (COVID-19 Spitting and Coughing) Order (No 2) 2020
  • $1,000 in other cases.

Requesting exemptions

​​
Page Updated: Monday 19 October 2020
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW