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COVID-19 NSW and Victoria Border Closure – what do I need to know?

Who is this factsheet for?

This factsheet is for people who want to know their legal rights and responsibilities under the NSW border closure public health order or for people who have received a fine under this law.

If you live in Victoria and have a question about a Victorian law, go to the Victoria Legal Aid website for more information.

What are the changes?

The NSW Government has made new orders to limit the spread of COVID-19. They have been issued under the Public Health Act.

The new order closes the border between NSW and Victoria. This is to restrict entry into NSW of people who have been in Victoria within the previous 14 days before entry. The order will be enforced by NSW Police at all border crossings by road, rail, air, foot or water.

The border closed at 12.01am on Wednesday 8 July 2020.

The order lasts for 90 days unless revoked earlier.

Can anyone travel from Victoria to NSW?

You need to have a permit to enter NSW from Victoria

  • Permits are required for adults and children
  • Permits are valid for 14 days from the date of issue and apply to all borders – land, air, sea and river crossings.
  • You must comply with all conditions specified by the permit for your relevant class of person.
  • You must carry a copy of your valid permit at all times when travelling or undertaking activities in NSW so it can be produced to an enforcement officer on request.
  • New permits are required from 12.01am on Wednesday 22 July 2020.
  • All existing permits expire at midnight on Tuesday 21 July 2020, except:
    • If you have an entry permit on compassionate grounds issued before midnight 21 July 2020 and are not already in NSW, you can enter NSW but must comply with the permit conditions including, for example, an obligation to self-isolate.
    • If you are already in NSW with a valid permit issued before midnight 21 July 2020, you can remain in NSW in accordance with the permit and you must comply with the permit conditions including, for example, any obligation to self-isolate. If you leave NSW, your permit ceases to have effect and you will need to get a new permit to re-enter NSW.

You do not need a permit to enter NSW from Victoria in these situations:

  • As an emergency services worker
  • As a law enforcement services worker
  • To avoid injury, harm or immediate emergency situation such as domestic violence
  • A person requiring medical, hospital, dental or veterinary care in an emergency situation.

You need a permit to enter NSW from Victoria to travel to another State or Territory:

You can enter NSW for the sole purpose of travelling by the most practicable direct route to another State or Territory by road, air or rail.

Do I need to self-isolate when I arrive in NSW from Victoria?

Your entry permit will tell you if you have any special conditions, including the need to self-isolate, that you need to comply with.

You must go into 14 days of self-isolation when you enter NSW from Victoria if you are a:

  • NSW resident (see below about border zone community residents) except if you:
  • have documentary evidence that you have completed the Victorian quarantine period for the previous 14 days and travelled by the most practicable direct route to your home from the place of quarantine.
  • are transiting at a Victorian airport from another State or Territory and did not leave the airport while in Victoria
  • you are a day school visitor and haven’t been in a restricted area in Victoria in the last 14 days, Day school visitor means you:
    • attend a government or non-government school, pre-school or child care centre (excluding boarding school) in Victoria
    • you are a parent or guardian accompanying the student under 18 years of age to attend a day school in Victoria
    • you work in a day school in Victoria
    • you are engaged to work in or provide services in a day school in Victoria like a cleaner or bus driver.
  • relevant education visitor which means you are ordinarily a resident of Victoria who is:
    • a student at a boarding school or university in NSW entering to attend school.
    • a parent or guardian accompanying a student under 18 years of age to attend a boarding school or university in NSW
    • a staff member at a boarding school or university in NSW entering to work at the school.
  • Member of Parliament or staff member or Consular official except when undertaking official duties or leaving NSW by the most practicable direct route
  • person entering to attend court or meet other legal obligations except to attend court or meet other legal obligations.
  • person providing a critical service – except when providing the critical service
  • seasonal worker.

What about people who live in border communities (border zone resident)?

New restrictions from midnight on Tuesday 21 July for border zone residents

NSW border zone residents need to apply for a new permit to travel into Victoria from 12.01am Wednesday 22 July. The new entry permit will only allow you to cross into the other side of the NSW-Victorian border to:

  • work (but only if you cannot work from home)
  • attend school or another educational institution (but only if you cannot learn from home)
  • obtain medical care, supplies or health services.

You will need to self-isolate for 14 days when you return to or enter NSW if you have travelled to Victoria for any other reason or outside of the border zone.

Border zone residents can check if their address falls within these new border restrictions on the Service NSW website.

For more information go to the NSW Government guide to border restrictions webpage.

What about my parenting arrangements?

You might be able to travel to NSW if you need to do so because of the arrangements you have for your children, for example you have a court order which says that you should have time with your children on weekends.

You will need to apply for an entry permit to do this and the permit will last for 14 days.

If you do not live in a border zone community (see above), you are also required to comply with the COVID-19 Safety Plan for child access or care arrangements available on the NSW government website – www.nsw.gov.au.

If you live in Victoria and need to cross the NSW border, consider these things:

  • Keep photo identification with you.
  • Have a copy of your court orders or your parenting plan or other written agreement of your arrangement.
  • Have the other parent available by telephone in case they need to be contacted by police.
  • Keep in mind that it might take a lot longer than usual to cross the border.
  • Get legal advice before trying to cross the border.

You might find that you, or the other parent, cannot cross the border. Parents need to be as flexible as possible in these circumstances. If the children are with you, try to arrange for them to stay in touch with the other parent by telephone, video or FaceTime chats, or email. You may also want to consider arranging “make-up time” for the other parent once border travel becomes possible again.

See also the Legal Aid NSW factsheet about COVID-19 and parenting orders.

What does self-isolation mean?

This means:

  • You must go directly to your place of residence or another suitable place to stay. You must stay there for 14 days from the date you entered NSW and take reasonable steps to minimise contact with other persons. You can only leave your isolation to:
    • get medical care or medical supplies
    • comply with a legal obligation or a court or tribunal order
    • in an emergency
    • to provide a critical service
    • to leave NSW by the most practicable direct route.
  • No-one can enter the place where you are self-isolating, unless they:
    • normally live there or they are also in self-isolation in the place you are staying
    • are delivering food or essential items
    • for medical or emergency purposes.

Follow the NSW Health self-isolation guidelines.

What is a critical service?

Critical services are:

  • Movement of freight or persons on a commercial basis
  • Movement of people on a commercial basis
  • Maintenance and repair of critical infrastructure
  • Medical, hospital, dental or veterinary care
  • Commonwealth defence and security services
  • Mining, agriculture, construction, energy or manufacturing
  • COVID-19 environmental cleaning on a commercial basis that is not available locally.

But does not include services provided by a seasonal worker.

Where do I get an entry permit?

You need to apply for a permit online through Service NSW. All adults and children travelling into NSW from Victoria need to have a valid permit. Permits last for 14 days.

https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/apply-covid-19-nsw-border-declaration-permit

For more information, call Service NSW on 13 77 88, 24 hours, 7 days a week.

What do I do with my entry permit?

If asked, you must provide a current entry permit to an enforcement officer for each person who is travelling across the border from Victoria into NSW.

If asked, you must also provide photographic identification to verify you are the holder of the permit.

What happens if I break this public health order?

For individuals the maximum penalty is $11,000, or imprisonment for 6 months, or both. A further $5,500 penalty may apply for each day the offence continues.

For corporations the maximum penalty is $55,000. A further $27,500 penalty may apply for each day the offence continues.

On-the-spot fines

NSW Police may issue on-the-spot fines of $1,000 to individuals or $5,000 to corporations for breaking a public health order. Fines can be issued to adults and children aged 10 to 18 years.

NSW Police may also issue an on-the-spot fine of $4,000 if:

  • a person does not provide information to enable an enforcement officer to decide if you have been in Victoria in the past 14 days and if you are authorised to enter NSW.
  • a person does not provide information that is true and accurate.

Producing a current entry permit and (if requested by the enforcement officer) photographic identification to verify you are the holder of the permit for inspection is sufficient information to meet these requirements.

What are my options if I get a NSW public health order fine?

  • pay the fine
  • ask for a review of the fine
  • go on a payment plan to pay off the fine
  • dispute the fine in Court
  • consider a Work and Development Order (WDO) to pay the fine

If you need help or can’t pay the fine by the due date you should get legal advice.

Contact LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 as soon as you get the fine to find out your options.

How can I get help?

For free legal help call LawAccess NSW 1300 888 529, Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm.

Legal Aid NSW has a series of factsheets about COVID-19 and the law available on their 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.

Call 1800 020 080 (24/7) for COVID-19 health questions or to check symptoms.

This factsheet is intended as a general guide to the law. Do not rely on this information as legal advice. We recommend you talk to a lawyer about your situation. This information is correct at the time of writing, however, it may change.

CVCIV07 | 28 July 2020 | © Legal Aid NSW