If you’re having a hard time keeping up with the latest rules and restrictions, you aren’t alone.
Over the weekend, a new slew of lockdown laws were introduced, followed by what we can only assume was an avalanche of Google searches that included the words ‘Bunnings’ and ‘5km’.
While there’s no official crack down on smiling yet, it’s safe to say most of us are pretty stony-faced under our masks, and rightly so—the list of things you can’t do in NSW continues to grow. So, where do we stand? Unless Gladys fires off some Tweets before we get time to send this out, here’s what you currently can and can’t do as a resident of NSW.
A curfew will be introduced for people in Sydney’s 12 local government areas (LGAs) of concern, which are already subjected to extra restrictions because they are virus hotspots.
From midnight on Monday, August 23, people in Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Penrith and Strathfield must stay home between 9:00pm and 5:00am.
Where can I go?
No matter where you live in NSW, you can now only shop, exercise, and engage in outdoor recreation within your local government area (LGA), or within 5km of your home. Unsurprisingly, this ‘either/or’ has proven ambiguous for some, because it means a Manly resident could drive 29km to Palm Beach for exercise or recreation as both suburbs are in the Northern Beaches LGA. Obviously we don’t advise you to do this, but it is a cause of confusion.
If you live in one of the hotspot LGAs (Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Strathfield, and some suburbs of Penrith) leaving your home for recreation (for example, grabbing a take-away coffee and drinking it in the sun) is no longer allowed and you are only allowed to exercise for one hour per day. You must also carry proof of address and show the NSW Police if asked.
Who can I have over?
Unless you’re throwing an engagement party with a curiously numbered guest list of 69, no one. According to the stats, household transmission accounts for 70% of Sydney’s COVID cases at the moment. However, there are two exceptions to this rule. If you are in an intimate relationship with someone who doesn’t live with you, you are able to enter each other’s home, even if they live outside of the 5km radius.
The second instance is if you live alone and would like to invite someone into your biodome, or as the Government likes to call it, your ‘Single’s Bubble’. They must be the same person for the whole of lockdown (so choose wisely), and if you live in one of the hotspot LGAs you will have to register your nominated bubble buddy online. As always, people can still have one visitor at one time to fulfil carers’ responsibilities, provide medical assistance, or childcare services.
Do I have to wear a mask everywhere?
Everyone in Greater Sydney, as well as regional NSW, should carry a mask with them at all times. Mask wearing will be mandatory when outside your home for those in Greater Sydney, except when exercising from 12.01am Monday 23rd August.
What’s the deal with exercise?
Remember back in the good old days of June when you and nine (!) friends could meet up for a casual catch up under the guise of exercise? If only we knew how good we had it. Now, outdoor exercise is strictly limited to two people unless you are all from the same family or household. Is sunbaking classed as exercise? No, but going for a swim at the beach is, and drying off in the sun apparently constitutes as recreation. Still unsure? Same.
Can I inspect a property?
Yes. If you are in Greater Sydney and you want to inspect a property to purchase (including investments) or lease in greater Sydney, a single person can make an appointment with an agent and do so privately. If you are in Greater Sydney looking to inspect a potential new place of residence outside Greater Sydney, you are allowed to do so with a permit but only if you have a genuine intention to move to and reside at the new place of residence as soon as is practicable.
What if I want to bend the rules a bit?
Prepare to be penalised, and harshly. Police launched the creatively named ‘Operation Stay Home’ on Monday and they aren’t mucking around. On-the-spot fines for breaking self-isolation rules, lying on a permit or lying to a contact tracer have now increased to $5000, while anyone who breaches the two-person exercise or outdoor recreation rule will be fined $3000. If you’re caught red-faced (i.e., without a mask), you could be fined $500. The max penalty for going restriction-rogue is $11K, or up to 6 months in prison.
But wait…there’s more!
Additional measures came into effect on Saturday, the 21st of August, with permits required for anyone leaving Greater Sydney (which for this purpose doesn’t include the Central Coast or Wollongong) as an authorised worker, to inspect real estate (not including investment properties), or to travel to a second home for urgent maintenance, repairs or animal welfare. If you are traveling less than 50km outside of Greater Sydney, you (rather confusingly) don’t need a permit. More information on the registration process and requirements can be found here.
Childcare workers and disability support workers who live or work in the hotspots LGAs must have their first vaccination dose by 30 August.
Authorised workers who live in but work outside a hotspot LGA are only permitted to work if rapid antigen testing is implemented at their work-site or they have had their first vaccination dose by 30 August.
From Saturday, 28 August, authorised workers from the hotspots LGAs are required to carry a permit from Service NSW declaring that they are an authorised worker and cannot work from home and From Saturday, 28 August, anyone entering an LGA of concern for the purposes of work must carry a worker permit issued by Service NSW or they will be required to self isolate for 14 days at home if they are caught without either worker permit or a reasonable excuse.
Annnd we’re up to date. At least for now.