COVID-19: Prohibited gatherings and activities

Government Directions on business and community activities 

On 15 March 2020 the WA government declared a State of Emergency in response to COVID-19. This allowed it to use emergency powers to create legally enforceable directions (rules) which aim to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

There are rules to control community gatherings, activities and public access to certain places.  These Directions are amended by the government as circumstances change. 

The Directions that apply from 12.01 am 1 May 2021 to 12.01 8 May 2021, in the affected area of Perth, Peel and Rottnest Island are:

In addition in the affected area the following Directions apply from 11.35 am 2 May to 12.01 am 8 May 2021 and override all other Directions:

Summary of current restrictions in Perth, Peel and Rottnest:

The Directions that otherwise apply in WA in relation to community gatherings, activities and entry to places are summarised below and are found in the following Directions:

What is a gathering?

A gathering is when people come together or meet as a group. 

What are the rules about gatherings in Western Australia?

The Directions say that you must not organise or attend a ‘prohibited gathering’ and you must not allow a ‘prohibited gathering’ on premises you own, control or operate.

If you want to get together with other people in a public or private place (whether indoors or outdoors), the general rule is that there must be at least 2 square metres for each person in the undivided space you are sharing. 

There are a number of exceptions to the 2 square metre rule for gatherings. For example, the rule does not apply:

  • when all the people in the gathering belong to the same household (e.g. all live in the same house)
  • when you attend an airport, shopping centre or medical service facility
  • when you take public transport or taxis, or you are in a car
  • when you attend your workplace, school or university,
  • when you go to a court or tribunal, 
  • when you use outdoor gyms, playgrounds or pools

The full list of exceptions to the 2 square metre rule is contained in paragraph 45 of the Gathering and Activities Directions (No 2).

There are exceptions for certain types of gathering where instead of the 2 square metre rule a 75% capacity rule may apply instead. These exceptions are contained in paragraphs 8, 11 and 12 of the Gathering and Activities Directions and include gatherings at places for formal worship and seated entertainment and hospitality venues.

There are also special rules that apply to major stadiums, which have their own Directions, for example the Gathering and Activities (Optus Stadium) Directions (No 2).

Any gathering that is not included as an exception is subject to the 2 square metre rule. 

There are some additional rules that apply to events. They may only operate if the event is registered, there is an approved COVID Event Plan and the event is held in accordance with that Plan.

What if I break the rules about prohibited gatherings?

If you break the rules about prohibited gatherings or activities, you can be charged by the police with breaking the law. The maximum penalty if you are charged and dealt with in a court is 12 months imprisonment or a fine of $50,000.

Alternatively, police can issue you with a $1000 infringement on the spot.

What are the rules about residential aged care facilities?

Rules remain in place about entry to aged care facilities. The Visitors to Residential Aged Care Facilities Directions (No 7) mean you cannot enter a residential aged care facility if you:

  • have returned from overseas in the preceding 14 days, or
  • have been told in the preceding 14 days by a responsible officer that you are a close contact of someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or
  • have symptoms of COVID-19, that is, you have a fever of 37.5 degrees or above, or a recent history of fever, or symptoms of acute respiratory infection (such as shortness of breath, cough or sore throat), or loss of smell or taste, or 
  • do not have an up to date influenza vaccination (unless you are responding to an emergency as, for example, an ambulance officer, or a vaccination is not reasonably available to you, or you have a documented contraindication to the influenza vaccine), or
  • are providing a service to a resident that would be reasonably practicable to provide remotely or by the resident attending an external facility.

Further, if you enter a residential aged care facility you must comply with any instructions given to you by the supervisor of the facility, unless you have a reasonable excuse for not complying.

If you are a quarantine centre worker and you have attended a quarantine centre in the preceding 14 days you must not enter or remain at a residential aged care facility unless you are wearing a face covering and keep a distance of 1.5 metres from any other person as long as it is practicable to do so.

If you break these rules you can be charged with an offence. The maximum penalty if you are convicted by a court is a fine of $20,000. 

Record of attendance at certain places - contact information

Under Contact Register Directions there are two main rules:

  1. A place listed in the Directions must request your contact details if you are, or appear to be, 16 years or older and want to enter that place; and
  2. If you are 16 years or older you must provide true and accurate contact details if you want to enter a place listed in the Directions.

The first rule has been in force since 5 December 2020. The second rule came into force on 5 February 2021.

These rules are designed to help trace the potential spread of COVID-19 in the community. There are a few exceptions which say that contact details do not have to be requested or provided where:

  • the person is a resident entering a boarding school or residential college; or
  • the person is entering the place for medical or emergency purposes; or
  • the person is a patient or staff member entering a public or private hospital; or 
  • the place is, or is part of, premises used to accommodate staff of a mining site and is only open to, and used by, those staff.

If you break these rules, you can be charged by the police with a criminal offence. The maximum penalty if you are charged and dealt with in a court is 12 months imprisonment or a fine of $50,000. Alternatively, police can issue you with a $1000 infringement on the spot. If the offence is committed by a body corporate, the maximum penalty is a $250,000 fine if dealt with in a court, or a $5,000 infringement.

If you are requested to provide contact information, you must do so either manually or electronically, which may be through the 'SafeWA' app.

If the place records your contact information itself, other than through the SafeWA app, it must hold this information for at least 28 days (or as directed) and provide it to a responsible officer if requested. The place must not use or disclose your contact information other than for the purpose of contact tracing or as permitted by law, unless you give permission for the information to be used for another purpose. The place must take reasonable steps to protect your information from being misused or lost or from being accessed, changed or disclosed without authority.

More information

The WA government website has further information about the rules around gatherings, activities and entry to certain places:

 

Reviewed: 27 April 2021

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The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.