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 directions to control community gatherings, activities and public access to certain places in Western Australia.  These directions are amended by the WA government as circumstances change. 

On 23 June 2021 the WA government amended the directions to remove most of the restrictions on gatherings and activities, leaving restrictions in place for large events only.  

This was interrupted by an outbreak of COVID-19 which led to increased restrictions in the Perth, Peel and Rottnest regions between 27 June and 12 July 2021. These have now been removed and the whole of WA is again subject to the same rules.

The directions that apply throughou 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?

In Western Australia, the only rules that remain in relation to gatherings are for events of more than 500 people. Rules such as the 2 square metre rule no longer exist and other than for these large events, venues may run at full capacity.

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 everywhere in Western Australia. They are contained in the Visitors to Residential Aged Care Facilities Directions (No 7). These rules 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. 

Contact tracing information - Record of attendance at certain places

Contact tracing is important for tracking the spread of COVID-19 in the community. There are government rules that mean we must record our attendance at the places we visit in the community for the purpose of contact tracing, in case of an outbreak.

Under the Contact Register Directions (No 2) 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 place since 5 December 2020. The second rule started 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. 

Your contact information must be held for at least 28 days (or as directed) and be provided to a responsible officer if requested. It must not be used or disclosed other than for the purpose of contact tracing, unless you give permission for the information to be used for another purpose. Reasonable steps must be taken 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:  12 July 2021

Disclaimer

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.