COVID-19 & The Law In Tasmania

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This is a FREQUENTLY CHANGING Legal Issue - last updated  


If you are experiencing any flu symptoms you must stay away from other people as much as practicable. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 you are required by law to go immediately to your home and stay there or attend approved medical care in line with the present direction here. 

Tasmania's Parliament has been stood down (adjourned); a state of emergency declared and emergency laws activated (declared).

While general laws are still in effect, a series of emergency declarations are being made under the authority of state ministers, which affect Tasmanian's movement, ability to associate with others, and participate in personal, recreational and other activities.  

As a general rule all Tasmanians are required to stay at home and avoid crowded places unless it is necessary for survival, work, or the wellbeing of themselves or those they care for. Owners or those responsible for places that are ordinarily open to the public are now under a legal responsibility to limit access to those places and in many cases shut them to the public altogether. 

Contents


Work

  • Can I go to work?

As at  the law is unclear on exactly when you must go to work and when you must work from home. It is also unclear on whether it is the duty of an employer to direct employees to work from home.

However you should avoid going to work if at all possible. 

  • Workers are under a duty to stay at home unless 'unable to'

Tasmanians are permitted to go to work if:

a) the person is not diagnosed with COVID-19 (a blanket prohibition); OR

b) has not travelled outside of mainland Tasmania in the last fortnight (14 days) (a blanket prohibition); AND

c) 'the work is unable to be performed at the person's primary residence' (legally unclear*).

*There is currently no legal test or guidance about c) i.e. when work is "unable" to be carried out at a persons' primary residence.

  • Note that the criminal penalty for going to work when it is not necessary to do so (i.e. the work is able to be performed at home) applies to the employee, not the employer. 
  • A precautionary interpretation of the current (  )  Emergency Declaration indicates you must work from home unless your employer has clearly stated you are required to conduct your work at your workplace.  If that is the case then the employee should only attend the workplace to conduct those parts of employment they cannot do from their homes. 
  • To avoid any doubt you should:
    1. Keep a record of any written communications from your employer specifically stating that you must continue to work at your workplace (rather than home);
    2. If your employer requests that you apply for, or complete a form to authorise, working from home you should make that application as soon as possible.
    3. If no information has been provided by your employer then contact (preferably in writing/email) your employer, line manager or Human Resources contact and ask them to confirm in writing that you are unable to work from home.
    • For instance you could write:

      'Now that an Emergency Declaration has been declared by the Tasmanian Government, and people are required to stay home, I am concerned to ensure I am not in breach of the law by coming to work. That includes being required to explain to the police why I am travelling to and from work.
      Under the Declaration of 30 March 2020, made under s 16 of the Public Health Act, I am only permitted to leave home if my work "is unable to performed at my primary residence". The declaration also requires that I do not stay at work "for longer than is necessary". 

      Could you please provide a written statement that I can keep with me during my travels to and from work, which clearly states that I cannot work from home during the state of emergency; and the hours which I am required to be at work?.'


At present (  ) the   Emergency Declaration   suggests 'essential workers' are excluded from the work from home rule. However this is not explicitly stated in the present Emergency Declaration


  • Am I an essential worker?

Essential workers have special obligations about how they look after themselves and protect others from the spread of infection from COVID-19.

It is possible that these essential workers may also be assumed to be "unable" to work from their home (primary residence) during the   Emergency Declaration ; however this is not clearly stated in the Emergency Declaration  (   ).

Presently (  ) the following professions are considered to be essential workers:

  • Health professionals;
  • Senior public officers involved in security and peace keeping;
  • Active military personnel
  • Members of the Commonwealth Parliament.



Living

  • What is my primary residence?

  • During the Emergency Declaration  the general rule is that everyone is required to remain in their 'primary residence'.  This is a single 'location' (the word was changed from 'premises' and now appears to capture any form of place a person can live)  where a person intends to 'lawfully' reside while in Tasmania, during the Emergency Period.

  • This rule applies to people who are ordinarily resident in Tasmania, and non-residents who are in Tasmania during the Emergency Period.

    • If you own, or have access to two or more dwellings you must only stay at one dwelling (the 'primary residence') and not move between the two. 

    • There is, at present, no requirement to notify or register a primary residence. 

    • Generally the law would expect you to stay in the location (premises) that you ordinarily and most regularly occupy, eat, drink and sleep and ordinarily treat like home. 


 History of this answer
  • Changes made at 14/4/2020
  • During the Emergency Declaration  the general rule is that everyone is required to remain in their 'primary residence'.  This is a single premises (hotel, apartment, house, room in share house, boat) where a person intends to 'lawfully' reside while in Tasmania, during the Emergency Period. This rule applies to people who are ordinarily resident in Tasmania, and non-residents who are in Tasmania during the Emergency Period.

    • If you own, or have access to two or more dwellings you must only stay at one dwelling (the 'primary residence') and not move between the two. 

    • There is, at present, no requirement to notify or register a primary residence. 

    • Generally the law would expect you to stay in the premises that you ordinarily and most regularly occupy, eat, drink and sleep and ordinarily treat like home. 



  • Can a caravan, RV, or boat be a primary residence?


As at   the law specifies that a primary residence is any 'location' where you intend to lawfully reside during your time in Tasmania. 

So long as it is legal for you to be in your caravan, RV, or boat, and that is the place you intend to use as a fixed address during the public health emergency – i.e. it can be legally parked or moored in one place – it is legal to stay there. 


 History of this answer

As at   the law is unclear but the broader policy behind it suggests you can if you don't have a fixed residence (like a house or apartment) to go to.

If you have a physical residence (house/flat/apartment) you should choose that property as your primary residence during the   Emergency Declaration .  If you do not, or moving to the other residence would require a significant number of journeys over long distances, the present public health policy on COVID-19 suggests that you should legally park or moor your vehicle/boat in a permanent place for the Emergency Period .  

  • The current    Emergency Declaration does not specify what a 'primary residence' means (i.e. what it includes and does not include).  
  • Under common law (which is used to provide greater certainty and clarity to undefined words in legislation and executive orders) a residence historically has required a fixed, permanent address associated where someone undertakes a 'habitual mode of life' i.e. where they  'most regularly occupy, eat, drink and sleep and ordinarily treat like home.  
  • In sum, movable vehicles and vessels are generally not considered to be a residence in Tasmania (as they may be in other states).

However a broader interpretation of the emergency laws and Emergency Declaration suggests that, so long as the motor vehicle or boat is kept permanently in one place (i.e. a caravan park, or mooring), it could be a persons primary residence for the Emergency Period . 

  1. As at   the declaration relating to mass gatherings - which is binding on owners of commercial premises such as caravan parks, campsites – requires the owners of those sites to allow persons who ' predominantly reside at the premises on a permanent basis' or ' predominantly reside at the premises while their principal residence is unavailable' to stay there.
    While that declaration applies to owners not residents, it  indicates that a 'primary residence' is intended to include a tent or caravan, so long as it is in a fixed place and the 'resident' of that impermanent dwelling does not have a fixed dwelling to return to.
  2. The Tasmanian Residential Tenancies Act also defines 'residential premises' to mean 'premises, or part of premises, and land provided with the premises used or intended to be used as a place of residence and includes boarding premises'
  • land;
  • a building or part of a building; 
  • tent; and
  • a boat or a pontoon ;

This suggests that, if a is already using their caravan, RV, or boat as a home, and it can be legally parked or moored in one place the person residing there should continue to stay there and apply the present self-isolation rules within that vehicle or boat. The principle purpose of the Emergency Declaration is to keep people safe and reduce potential exposure to and transmission of COVID-19. That would include moving from a boat or vehicle into alternative accommodation. This also accords with the policy direction to sailors and motorboat owners visiting the state who are required to stay aboard the vessel. 



  • I have more than one property, can I move between them?

Generally you are not permitted to move between properties you own during the public health emergency except for very limited reasons.

During the Emergency Declaration  you may only inhabit and occupy one residence. You may only visit your other 'premises' for:

  1. Performing essential maintenance - this would include any hazard reduction or repairs that are essential to protecting the property to serious or ongoing damage; or
  2. Security inspections; and
  3. For any other related 'reasonable excuse' - which would need to be accepted as defensible by enforcement authorities – for instance visiting one location to transfer essential medicines, that cannot be purchased at a pharmacy, to the primary residence.
  4. You may only stay on that property for as long as is necessary to undertake those tasks.
    • This would indicate you cannot stay overnight there unless it is unsafe or impossible to return home (for instance protecting from an ongoing storm incident / attending to a security incident late at night)

Note however that the public health rules apply to individuals not whole families. In some circumstances the family group may live at different residences owned by that family. However, each individual or sub-group of the family must remain in their respective nominated 'primary residence' and not visit each other.


  • I was in my shack when the lockdown started - can I stay there?

As at   the law is unclear but the broader policy behind it suggests you should return to your home unless you intend to occupy your shack as your home for the entire (indefinite) public health emergency period

During the Emergency Period you are required by the Emergency Declaration to stay at your primary residence. This term has no established legal definition but is generally the place you occupy as your 'home'.  Noting that there is no clear end to the Emergency Period:

  • The most conservative reading of the Emergency Declaration against the wider common law (historic court decisions which assist us provide meaning to legal terms), suggest you should return to your ordinary 'home';  

  • However, the Emergency Declaration does not use the conventional legal term 'Principal Place of Residence' (the term used to described your home for land tax, family law, electoral and other legal purposes).  That, and a range of other parts of the Emergency Declaration relating to people who cannot return to their principal places of residence suggest that you can stay at your shack if you intend to treat it as the premises you will  regularly occupy, eat, drink and sleep and treat like home until the Emergency Period is over.

  • Whichever premises you choose, you must stay there and not move between properties unless it is for essential purposes.


  • My family is divided across multiple properties - what are the rules?

See Can I visit other family members who live on another property?


During the Emergency Declaration  you may only inhabit and occupy one residence. You may only visit your other 'premises' for:

  1. Performing essential maintenance - this would include any hazard reduction or repairs that are essential to protecting the property to serious or ongoing damage; or
  2. Security inspections; and
  3. For any other related 'reasonable excuse' - which would need to be accepted as defensible by enforcement authorities – for instance visiting one location to transfer essential medicines, that cannot be purchased at a pharmacy, to the primary residence.
  4. You may only stay on that property for as long as is necessary to undertake those tasks.
    • This would indicate you cannot stay overnight there unless it is unsafe or impossible to return home (for instance protecting from an ongoing storm incident / attending to a security incident late at night)

Note however that the public health rules apply to individuals not whole families. In some circumstances the family group may live at different residences owned by that family. However, each individual or sub-group of the family must remain in their respective nominated 'primary residence' and not visit each other.


  • I was in my shack when the lockdown started - can I stay there?

As at   the law is unclear but the broader policy behind it suggests you should return to your home unless you intend to occupy your shack as your home for the entire (indefinite) public health emergency period

During the Emergency Period you are required by the Emergency Declaration to stay at your primary residence. This term has no established legal definition but is generally the place you occupy as your 'home'.  Noting that there is no clear end to the Emergency Period:

  • The most conservative reading of the Emergency Declaration against the wider common law (historic court decisions which assist us provide meaning to legal terms), suggest you should return to your ordinary 'home';  

  • However, the Emergency Declaration does not use the conventional legal term 'Principal Place of Residence' (the term used to described your home for land tax, family law, electoral and other legal purposes).  That, and a range of other parts of the Emergency Declaration relating to people who cannot return to their principal places of residence suggest that you can stay at your shack if you intend to treat it as the premises you will  regularly occupy, eat, drink and sleep and treat like home until the Emergency Period is over.

  • Whichever premises you choose, you must stay there and not move between properties unless it is for essential purposes.


  • My family is divided across multiple properties - what are the rules?

See Can I visit other family members who live on another property?



Family, partners and friends


  • Can I visit friends or family members who live on another property? 

You may visit another property if:

  • You are attending a 'gathering' at the home along with no more than five people who do not live in that property present; or
  • You are attending the property for the purposes of shared custody arrangements, guardianship or other care*
  • You are delivering or removing items from the premises*; or
  • You are delivering medical, health, emergency or urgent legal services*

Beyond these exceptions neither the current  Emergency Declaration, nor the parent Public Health Act define what a 'gathering is'. For instance:

  • There is no temporal (time) element - a gathering may last for a day, or several days; and
  • There is no purpose element - a gathering of people can be for any purpose; and
  • The above exceptions no longer appear to be subject to a 1.5m social distancing rule.

* The starred exceptions above are not limited to a set number of people on the property.


 View history of this answer

This should be limited as a matter of policy, safety and civic duty but as at  the law is not clear.

The rules about self isolation apply to individuals, not families or family groups. If members of your family live in a different primary residence to you then you may generally visit in a 'supportive capacity'. The current  Emergency Declaration   is unclear in many respects and uses broad terms to describe what type of support can be delivered. Ultimately the most essential consideration is whether you risk transmitting COVID-19 to your family and loved ones.

The  Emergency Declaration   permits you to visit family members living in a different  primary residence  to you for the following reasons: 

  • For the provision of social support (not defined),
  • For the provision of  or care, to another person (including to attend to another person's compassionate needs) (otherwise not defined),
  • To facilitate shared custody (of children),
  • To provide guardianship or care arrangements for another person.



  • Can I stay at my partner's house overnight?

As at  the answer appears to be yes: see above.


 See history of this answer

This should be avoided as a matter of policy, safety and civic duty but as at  the law is not clear.

If your partner lives at a differen primary residence you then you may visit them for the purposes of social support or care. This is a broad exception which could be used to justify staying at your partner's house for support purposes. However, regular movement between residences is contrary to the wider policy behind the present public health measures.



  • Can I visit my family members in a public or private facility?

No matter where your family member is, so long as they don't occupy the same primary residence as you then you may only visit them for the reasons described above. However, during the  Emergency Period certain public facilities have higher levels of restrictions on them. 177440786 and residential care homes are highly restricted. Other facilities with less strict restrictions include: 

  • Homeless accommodation,
  • Prison,
  • Defence barracks; or
  • Detention centre.

In those cases you will be required by the management of that facility to adhere to certain social distancing rules, including maintaining 1.5m distance from other people in the room, not having more than 2 people in the room at any one time, and in some cases not visiting at all.  

Notably the present Emergency Declaration social distancing rules predominantly bind the persons who own and control the facilities (with the exception of the 1.5 metre rule that binds everyone).However, any visitor who does not apply the rules set out by the facility may lawfully be removed and/or become a trespasser.

  • Residential care home 

If your family member is in a residential care facility you are not permitted to visit the facility unless you are providing end of life support.

Unlike some other social distancing rules this restriction applies criminal penalties to the visitor, as well as the facility.

The only exception for you, as a family member, to visit your relative at a residential care home is if you are:

a) visiting for the purpose of 'end of life support' for the family member; and

b) not subject to a COVID-19 diagnosis n the last fortnight (14*24hours); and

c) not 'reasonably suspected' as having COVID-19;

d) not a temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius or above;

e) not experiencing or evidencing any symptoms of an acute respiratory infection;

f) able to show proof that you have been administered a recent immunisation against influenza (flu vax), or proof that you are unable to receive that vaccination for medical reasons; and

g) where safe and practicable, you maintain  a distance of no less than 1. 5 metres between the person and any other person.

Preparing for an end of life support for your family or loved one

If you believe that your relative is likely to require end of life support in such a residential care home in the next year you should contact the facility management and discuss expectations and arrangements for any visit for you and your family.  

You should also book in for a 2020 Flu Vaccination as soon as possible. It is essential that you have access to a record of that vaccination and any recent medical records in case you need to prove you are not a risk to other people in the residential care facility at short notice.  You can gain access to your medical health records using https://my.gov.au/  


  • Hospitals

If your family member is in a residential care facility you are not permitted to visit the facility unless you are:

a) providing end of life support; or 

b) a parent or legal guardian of a child (or person under legal guardianship) patient; or

c) providing necessary physical assistance to a patient entering or on the premises; or

d) providing necessary communication / comprehension assistance to a patient entering or on the premises; or

e) providing necessary legal / administrative assistance to a patient entering or on the premises; or 

f) the support person for a patient who is due, or likely, to give birth to a child.

AND you are not:

a) subject to a COVID-19 diagnosis n the last fortnight (14*24hours); and

b)  'reasonably suspected' of having COVID-19;

c) a temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius;

d) experiencing or evidencing any symptoms of an acute respiratory infection;

And you:

a) where safe and practicable, the visitor maintains  a distance of no less than 1. 5 metres between the person and any other person.


  • Can I have a visitor/s to my home?

As at  you may host up to five (5) people (other than the ordinary residents of your home) see above.

 View history of this answer

As at  the policy position on hosting visitors in your home is that to limit the transmission of diseases it should not occur. However, some exemptions apply.  The policy aim of the exemptions is to ensure individuals who require social, compassionate or other necessary supports in their home can still access it.

  • The law provides that hosting up to two individuals in your home is ok, if they are visiting to provide social support or care to you or another person in your home. 
    • These exemptions apply under Section 16 to the mass gathering rules and The requirement to remain in primary residence .
    • A gathering is exempt from the mass gathering rules for persons attending a private premise if it consists of persons who ordinarily reside at the premises and no more than two other persons who do not live at the premises.
  • The two visitors in your home must be attending to someone’s compassionate needs, to facilitate shared custody, guardianship or care arrangements. 



  • Can my child have a friend over to play?

Yes, as at  you may host up to five (5) children (other than the ordinary residents of your home) see above.

 View history of this answer

The policy position on is that play dates between children who do not live at the same premises should not occur.

As at  the  law is unclear, but also appears to practically prohibit children visiting each other at different homes. This is because, although a person may host up to two people who ordinarily live elsewhere in their home (including children), the legally binding 'stay at home rule' does not provide an exception for play dates. Put simply you could host two visiting children, but they aren't allowed to visit to begin with. 

Analysis

The applicable law rests in two public health emergency directions under Section 16 of the Public Health Act 2007.

  1. 'Stay at home rule' : As of  , all Tasmanians (including children) are to remain in your primary residence unless you are performing an exempt activity.  One of these includes
    1. Providing social support, or care, to another person (including to attend to another person's compassionate needs, to facilitate shared custody, guardianship or care arrangements for another person).
      1. Note however it must be the visiting child who is providing such support (not you as a parent providing social support to another parent by hosting their child).
      2. Given the nature of the exception (health, mental health and related care) it is highly unlikely this provision could be read to cover the relationship between two children on a play date.
      3. There are no other relevant exceptions to the requirement children stay at home.

  2. 'Social distancing' rules in the Gatherings Directive. Under this directive the owner/occupier/controller of the home (i.e. the parent who would host a child for a play date) is required to ensure:
    1. 1.5 metre distance is maintained between those in the home when children who are visiting who don't ordinarily lie there, if it is safe and practicable to do so; and
    2. If more than two children are visiting the home the total number of children allowed in any room or space on the property does not exceed the number calculated by dividing the total area of the space used, as measured insquare metres, by 4.

Even if there was an exception for play dates - or a play date could be described as 'social support' between children, these limitations suggest the law is not presently designed to accomodate children from different homes playing together in one person's principal residence.



  1. Is there a limit on the number of people allowed into my home to do work?

As at  there is no limit on the people permitted to do maintenance work in your home or on your property.  

An exemption to the gatherings rule applies in your home if those attending are doing so to provide maintenance, renovation or repair the premises, or maintaining renovating, installing, removing or repairing an item located at your home.


 History of this answer

As at  it is acceptable to allow other people into your home to perform maintenance work.

An exemption to the gatherings rule applies in your home if those attending are doing so to provide maintenance, renovation or repair the premises, or maintaining renovating, installing, removing or repairing an item located at your home.

The law does not provide a specified limit on the number of people attending to this work. However the law requires that all persons in the home maintain a 1.5 metre distance from eachother, if it is safe and practicable to do so.




Recreation

  • Can I go to the park or beach?

As at  the law is variable ; if the park or beach is open, and is not a National Park or reserved land operated by National Parks (see below), then you may 

    1. Generally: undertake 'personal exercise'; and/or
    2. Potentially to 'gather' - so long as it is permitted by the Local Authority (Council) responsible for the park, so long as no more than ten persons are present in the 'space'. As at  this provision is legally unclear and uncertain;**  and/or
    3. To provide for the welfare of your animal - which includes exercise of certain animals like dogs. ** Analysis: The current Public Health Directive on isolation lists types of exercises that may be undertaken while attending a legal 'gathering'.


Uncertainties about park use gatherings under 10 people

As at   the  Emergency Declaration  appears to have several errors.

  • The forms of 'personal exercise' which are permitted in the declarations are cross referenced to the exception for 'gatherings' - under a(ii) of the Directive – not the exercise exception (a(iii));
  • An outdoor premises includes all 'land' under the parent, Public Health Act. However, 'gathering' is not defined under that Act. Under the present 'gatherings' directive, all gatherings at 'outdoor premises' must be limited to less than ten people - applying to the body controlling the outdoor premises as well as the persons attending that gathering - in other words the entirety of the land of a premises. This would appear to limit people on a beach or park to ten people only, regardless of the size of the park or beach. 



 See history of this answer

As at  the law is variable ; if the park or beach is open then you may only use open spaces (not park facilities) and only exercise there (not rest, loiter or congregate in groups).  

  • All park facilities are closed by Public Health Directive 

All   play centres, skate parks, playgrounds, pools, gyms (indoor or outdoor), community facilities*, regardless of who controls or manages them, are required to be shut.

* There is presently no definition in any Tasmanian law about what a 'community facility' is - but this is likely to include, BBQ facilities, public toilets and  picnic shelters.

  • Even if there are no signs indicating they have been shut down you should assume they are off limits.  

  • National Parks and state reserves are closed

All national parks and reserved lands in Tasmania are closed. See 177440786

Some beaches, or beach accesses are administered by Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife service. These are closed.

  • All State Forests are closed

As at  all Permanent Timber Production Zone Land and forestry roads have been closed by Sustainable Timber Tasmania (formerly Forestry Tasmania) . See notice here. 


  • Some local government beaches, parks and reserves may be open

Some beaches, parks and reserves fall under local government jurisdiction (your 'local Council') and parts of the park (except for the facilities listed above) may be open.

Note that each local Council is responsible for beaches, parks and reserves in their local government area and are also bound by the current emergency laws on mass gatherings.  

  • That means your Council is legally obliged to shut any beaches, parks and reserves under its control that it considers cannot be managed (or evidence shows are not being used) in compliance with the Mass Gatherings directive.  
  • As such, your local Council may have decided it is not possible to guarantee social distancing and limits on crowd numbers in the beach, parks or reserves you wish to go to.  If you want to go to a council managed beach, parks or reserve, you could:
    • Walk/run/cycle/drive to three and look for any signs indicating that it is closed and if so return home or go to another park, beach or reserve; or
    • Contact your local Council and ask for an update about which parks, beaches or reserve are open and which parks are closed. This may change regularly.
      • We would discourage relying on Local Council websites at present as some of these aren't being updated regularly.
    • If the park is open remember to only use it for exercise, not rest and relaxation.


As at   the  Emergency Declaration  requires all residents to stay at home with very limited exceptions. In regards to public spaces (parks, reserves, beaches) the three relevant exceptions are: 

    1. Generally: To undertake 'personal exercise'; and
    2. Possibly (in limited circumstances): To provide 'social support' or 'care' for another person. This might include supporting a person with limited mobility to exercise in the park, or accompany a person who is vulnerable or who considers their safety to be at risk when exercising at the park.  This involves a broad reading of the exception to the 'stay at home rule' and should only be relied on in limited circumstances.

Note. There is no 'rest and relaxation' exception to the general 'stay at home' rule.  You cannot go to the park to rest, relax, loiter or congregate with others.


As at   the  Emergency Declaration  requires all residents to stay at home with very limited exceptions. In regards to public spaces (parks, reserves, beaches) the three relevant exceptions are: 

    1. Generally: To undertake 'personal exercise'; and
    2. To provide for the welfare of your animal - which includes exercise of certain animals like dogs; and
    3. Possibly (in limited circumstances): To provide 'social support' or 'care' for another person. This might include supporting a person with limited mobility to exercise in the park, or accompany a person who is vulnerable or who considers their safety to be at risk when exercising at the park.  This involves a broad reading of the exception to the 'stay at home rule' and should only be relied on in limited circumstances.

Note. There is no 'rest and relaxation' exception to the general 'stay at home' rule.  You cannot go to the park to rest, relax, loiter or congregate with others.


  • Sitting/loitering/resting/congregating should be minimised

As at  the current  Emergency Declaration only permits exercise, not rest, relaxation or other non-physical activities.

If you do need to take a short breather or break between exercise you are expected to do so no longer than 'necessary' (the words used in the Emergency Declaration ) and your choice of how and where you take a rest should be 'appropriate' to the public health emergency and 'adapted' (the words of the common law when  applying  measures such as this) from what you would ordinarily do when thinking about  the  potential for COVID-19 transmission.

  • For instance if a large grassy area is available to take a breather on then  may be more appropriate to sit on the grass as an adaptation from your  ordinary choice to sit on a park bench, based on the rationale that a park bench is more likely to have been a contact point.


  • Can I go bushwalking?

As at the law is uncertain (possibly due to an error in the current public health directions), but generally the answer is yes.  

  • So long as the National Park is open you are permitted to exercise there.
  • You may also be permitted to 'gather' there (this term is not defined), so long as the park is no more than 30 kilometres from your home.



 See history of this answer

As at the law predominantly prohibits the most common forms of bushwalking (i.e. 'generally no').

All national parks and reserved lands, as well as forestry reserves, and other land controlled by Sustainable Timbers Tasmania (formerly Forestry Tasmania) are closed; some local reserves may remain open. 

Some parks and reserves fall under local government jurisdiction. Each local government authority is responsible for these. See above 'Some local government beaches, parks and reserves may be open'.

  • Can I go dog-walking?

As at  yes, so long as you :

a) Cannot reasonably give your dog 60 minutes of exercise per day on your own property;

b) Remain only on open public land (i.e. not parks/beaches/reserves that are closed); and

c) Maintain 1.5 metres and other social distancing.

See 177440786


  • Can I go fishing?

As at  the law is unclear and appears to conflict with some government/departmental policy statements.

As at  the law relating to other forms of fishing outside of national parks and state reserves is unclear. 

The Emergency Declaration permits people to leave their homes for three relevant reasons:

  1. To launch their boat if it is in the same municipality of the principal residence of the person (added on ) and/or
  2. To undertake 'personal exercise'; and/or
  3. Attending another location if the person has a reasonable excuse, in the opinion of the Director of Public Health or his or her delegate, to attend the other location.

As at  the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment website states that recreational fishing is permitted in limited social-distancing circumstances because fishing is accepted by the Department as having 'benefits for mental and physical wellbeing'.

This statement is not law,  'mental and physical wellbeing' are not exceptions in the Emergency Declaration. Fishing, leisure and relaxation are also not listed in the stated exceptions to the stay at home rule.

  • Departmental, ministerial and press statements cannot legally override the Emergency Declaration  restriction.
  • However, it may be an defence to any claim fishing is not a 'reasonable excuse' to not be at home.  Similarly allowing boat-owners to launch their vessels reasonably infers those vessels may be used for the purposes they are designed for, that is fishing. 

Do I need to 'socially distance' aboard a boat?

The present public health policy stipulates that you must socially distance aboard a boat. As at   the law is dependent upon the circumstances.

  • If the boat is a privately owned vessel, entirely crewed by members of the same primary residence, the law requires that:
    • 1.5 metre distance is maintained between those aboard, if it is safe and practicable to do so .
  • If the boat is a privately operated boat, crewed by people who do not live in same primary residence , the law appears to require:
    • That no more people aboard the boat than the total  deck-space (in square metres) divided by 4 be permitted aboard; and
    • 1.5 metre distance is maintained between those aboard, if it is safe and practicable to do so .
  • In both cases there is a  criminal penalty which appears to apply to each person aboard the boat. 

Analysis

  • Under the parent Act of the current Emergency Declaration, premises includes 'boats' ( Public Health Act, s 3 ). This brings boats within the 'Gatherings' Emergency Directive (last issued  ) - which is the emergency law that specifies social distancing rules.  
    • The current Emergency Declaration specifically rules limiting gatherings of three or more from applying to ' a private vehicle' (ED Gatherings - 6, f(iii)).
    • Under the parent Act of the current Emergency Declaration (Public Health Act, s 3), a vehicle includes a 'vessel'. 
    • Consequently, the '3 or more' gathering prohibition does not apply to private boats.
  • The Emergency Declaration stipulates that, in all gatherings,"  the total number of persons present in any single undivided space, at the same time, must not exceed the number calculated by dividing the total area of the space used, as measured in square metres, by 4".
    • However, the Emergency Declaration does not extent to gatherings which  in which 'each member of the gathering ordinarily resides at the same private premises'. 
    • Consequently, the 'quarter square metre' rule only applies to boats crewed by persons who do not live at the same primary residence.


 History of this answer 03/04/2020

As at  the law is unclear and appears to conflict with some government/departmental policy statements.

As at  the law relating to other forms of fishing outside of national parks and state reserves is unclear. 

The  Emergency Declaration   permits people to leave their homes for two relevant reasons:

  1. To undertake 'personal exercise'; or
  2. Attending another location if the person has a reasonable excuse, in the opinion of the Director of Public Health or his or her delegate, to attend the other location.

As at  the  Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment website states that recreational fishing is permitted in limited social-distancing circumstances because fishing is accepted by the  Department  as having 'benefits for mental and physical wellbeing'.

This statement is not law, and it does not override the Emergency Declaration   restriction. However, it may be an defence to any claim fishing is not a 'reasonable excuse' to not be at home. 




  • Am I able to drive a vehicle?

As at  you may drive only for  essential personal reasons.

The  Public Health Act does permit the Director to extend the Emergency Declaration to controlling the use of vehicles. As at  this has not occured.

During the  Emergency Declaration   you may only drive to work for the purposes of the  exceptions listed below .

You may only drive for as long as reasonably necessary to transport yourself, supplies, pets or other persons to and from that essential service.

Driving for leisure is not permitted.

  • As at  if all passengers in the car live in the same primary residence as the driver then the law requires that: 
    • 1.5 metre distance is maintained between passengers, if it is safe and practicable to do so .
  • If the boat is a privately operated boat, crewed by people who do not live in same primary residence , the law appears to require:
    • That no more people aboard the boat than the total  deck-space (in square metres) divided by 4 be permitted aboard; and
    • 1.5 metre distance is maintained between those aboard, if it is safe and practicable to do so .


 History of this answer 03/04/2020

As at  y ou are not required by law to apply the social distancing rules of 1.5 metres and no more than three people in the same space inside of the vehicle you are driving.



Animals

  • Can I take my dog for a walk?

As at  you are permitted to leave your home to reasonably ensure the welfare of your animal. By law you are required to ensure your dog is provided with a reasonable opportunity for exercise for at least 60 minutes in total each day. Under Tasmanian Animal Welfare Guidelines 'opportunity to exercise' means' 

  • allowing the dog access to an exercise area in which it can run freely; or
  • by walking the dog on a lead.

 If it is not possible to meaningfully provide such an opportunity to exercise on your property for sixty minutes then the present  Emergency Declaration permits you to leave the property with your dog to do so. This is so long as:


 See history of this answer

As at  the current  Emergency Declaration does not include an exception for the exercising of animals. However it also does not prohibit it. A strict interpretation of the Declaration therefore only permits you to exercise your animals if you are doing so in a lawful place and you are also exercising

  • A lawful place is,
    • Your home property,
    • Public streets or walkways that have not been shut down,
    • Parks that have not been shut-down (and which permit animals), or
    • Beaches that have not been shut down (and which permit animals).
  • Exercising means that you must also be undertaking physical activity. You cannot therefore sit in one place and let your animal roam / run when you are not.



  • My animal(s) are on another property - can I go there to take care of them?

As at  the Emergency Declaration permits 'reasonable measures' to ensure the welfare of an animal' that you are responsible for, even if it is on another property.  

In Tasmania (unlike other states) there are no overarching principles which set out a duty of care to animals; however, it is generally accepted that the duty of care requirements of the Animal Welfare Act require those who have responsibility for animals do all that is reasonable to ensure the five freedoms - freedom from hunger/thirst/malnutrition; freedom from fear and distress; freedom from physical and thermal discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; and freedom to express normal patterns of behaviour

Importantly, Tasmania has a set of legally binding regulations and standards as well as statutory guidelines which set out how these overarching principles are applied to specific animals. These can be referred to in deciding whether it is reasonably necessary to leave your property with any type of animal or to tend to a type of animal on another property.  

While the guidelines are not legally binding they indicate how people should be complying with their overall duty of care to animals under the Animal Welfare Act and indicate what is reasonable to leave home for. They also tend to incorporate the stricter and more fundamental legally binding duty of care rules found in the standards and regulations, are easier to read (as they are intended to be educational) and are therefore a good place to start.

Animal specific duty of care guidelines

Legally binding regulations/standards


  • Can I take my animal off my property to tend to its welfare or care

As at  you may leave your property to:

a) seeking veterinary services  for an animal; and

b)  tend to the welfare of an animal you are responsible for. The Emergency Declaration appears to extend to leaving your principal residence with the animal to attend to its welfare, for instance if you need to exercise it, wash/bathe it on anther site, or do any other thing which is within Tasmanian laws or guidelines about Animal Welfare specific to the animal. Those guidelines can be found here. 



Exceptions

  • What are the exceptions to the stay at home rule?

You may travel to and from a property that is not your primary residence  if it is for the following reason: 

  • To work (if you cannot work from home),
  • To volunteer (if you cannot volunteer from home);
  • To collect supplies and groceries from a business, supermarket or market that is legally permitted to be open during the Emergency Declaration ,
  • To exercise,
  • To attending necessary medical care and services,
  • To taking your pet or livestock to the vet,
  • To providing social care, support or guardianship to another person,
  • For child custody arrangements,
  • To attend school or study (where this cannot be done at home).




Penalties

  • What is the penalty for  breaching  the stay at home rule?

The current penalty is 100 penalty units ($16,800) or imprisonment for up to 6 months.

  • What is the penalty for remaining on national park or reserve land?

Remaining on national park, reserve or other land managed by the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service without the permission of the Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service is 20 penalty units ($2360) .

  • What is the penalty for being in, or on a closed Council park, reserve or beach?

Each local council has the power to set fines (monetary penalties) for breach of a council by-law closing park, reserve or beach. The amount of the fine will ordinarily be stated on any sign posted on or around the park, reserve, or beach.

You may also be prosecuted for trespass to land which is 25 penalty units ($4200) or six months imprisonment.




Further sources legal information on this topic (non COVID-19 specific)


Court, Government and Public services


Legal advice and assistance 

Please note that the demand for legal services and assistance is at an unprecedented level due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.  We encourage those people who are able to first contact a commercial law firm to discuss their service fees. This will reduce the burden on Legal Aid and the community legal centres and allow the most vulnerable members of the community to access legal support.  


Community Legal Centres

CLCPractitionerContactConditions / limitations
Legal Aid Tasmania
1300 366 611Guidelines on grants of aid. 
Hobart Community Legal Service

03 6223 2500

https://www.hobartlegal.org.au/contact-us/


Contributors 

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