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COVID-19: Breaches of the Public Health Orders

This factsheet is part of a series from Legal Aid NSW about COVID-19 and everyday law. For other factsheets, including how restrictions affect regional NSW, travel, court and more visit: www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/get-legal-help/covid-19

Public Health Orders

The NSW Government has made Public Health Orders to limit the spread of COVID-19. Different restrictions apply to different parts of NSW. The orders are changing all the time and can be hard to understand.

This factsheet will tell you:

  • what happens if you don’t follow the orders; and
  • where you can get help and more information.

What happens if I don’t follow the orders?

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

For individuals

The police can issue these on the spot fines:

  • $1,000 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
  • $5,000 for breaching self-isolation rules if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are a close contact
  • $5,000 for lying on a permit
  • $3,000 for breaching rules around entry into regional NSW for authorised work, inspecting real estate and travelling to your second home
  • $5,000 for lying to a contact tracer
  • $3,000 for breaching the 2 person outdoor rule

The court can:

  • Fine you up to $11,000 or give you 6 months imprisonment or

Working from home

Employers must require an employee to work from home if the employee is reasonably able to do so.

Businesses may be fined up to:

  • $10,000 for corporations and
  • $2000 for individuals.

What are my options if I get a fine?

The options to deal with your fine are:

  • Pay the fine or organise with Revenue NSW to make instalment payments over time
  • Ask for a review of the fine through MyPenalty on the Revenue NSW website
  • Elect to dispute the fine in the Local Court through MyPenalty on the Revenue NSW website (seek legal advice first)

If you get a Public Health Order fine you can get free legal advice from Legal Aid NSW, so you know the best option for you.

What if I can’t pay my fine by the due date?

If you can’t pay your fine you have the option to:

  • Make instalment payments over time. These can be small payments each fortnight if you are in financial hardship or on a Centrelink
  • Clear your fines through a Work and Development Order (WDO) if you are eligible
  • Request to have the fine waived by Revenue NSW if you have serious financial, medical or domestic

What will happen if I don’t pay my fine?

If you don’t pay or make arrangements to pay your fine, Revenue NSW have enforcement powers to:

  • Suspend your driver licence
  • Cancel your car registration
  • Take money from your bank account or wages
  • Get the Sheriff to seize and sell things you own

Each time Revenue NSW takes enforcement action they add fees to your fine. So, don’t ignore a fine you can’t pay, get help quickly.

If you get a NSW Public Health Order fine, contact LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 for free legal help.

Where can I find more information?

For the most up to date information on what you can and cannot do under the rules go to the NSW government website.

If you have received a Public Health Order fine and want to discuss your options directly with Revenue NSW you can contact them on (02) 7808 6934 (8:30am to 5:00pm Monday – Friday).

For COVID-19 health questions or to check symptoms call the National Coronavirus Helpline on

1800 020 080 (open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

How can I get help?

For free legal help call LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 or call your local Legal Aid NSW office.

There is also a series of factsheets about COVID-19 and the law available on the Legal Aid NSW website to assist you to manage all the changes that are happening in our community.

If you need an interpreter, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 and ask for LawAccess NSW. If you find it hard to hear or speak, call the National Relay Service on 133 677 and ask for LawAccess NSW or visit www.relayservice.gov.au.

25 August 2021 | © Legal Aid NSW