COVID-19: Prohibited gatherings and activities

Government Directions affecting business and community activities 

On 15 March 2020 the WA government declared a State of Emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This allows it to use emergency powers to create legally enforceable directions (rules) which aim to limit the spread of COVID-19 in WA and manage its impact.

Over the course of the pandemic a range of different directions have been imposed to control community gatherings, activities and public access to certain places in Western Australia.  These directions have been updated as circumstances have changed.

What sorts of rules are currently in place that affect business and community activities?

There are now very few government directions that affect business and community activities, however, there are still some in place that affect hospitals, residential disability and aged care facilities, correctional facilities and travel on public transport. These rules relate mainly to mask wearing and proof of vaccination. 

Summary of the rules affecting business and community activities

The WA government has a section of its website dedicated to providing information about the pandemic, titled COVID-19 coronavirus

Under this section, there is a webpage titled Baseline COVID-19 coronavirus: What you can and can't do which provides a useful overview of the rules that currently affect business and community gatherings and activities. 

From that webpage you can access another webpage COVID-19 Coronavirus: Baseline public health and social measures - frequently asked questions which provides detailed information about the current rules. 

Is it an offence to break these rules?

Yes, if you break the rules contained in any of the directions imposed in response to the pandemic, police can charge you with a criminal offence.

If you are prosecuted for the offence in court and you are convicted, the maximum penalty is 12 months imprisonment or a fine of $50,000.

Instead of prosecuting you through court, police can issue you with a $1000 infringement

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.

Accessing the directions 

It may be important for you to access the actual directions, rather than just an overview. This may be so you can check the date when they came into operation or check certain definitions.

If you want to check the directions because you have been charged with breaking the rules contained in them, you should consider getting advice from a lawyer to make sure you fully understand your legal position before making decisions about the charge.

The WA government website provides access to the directions under its Publications section. Here are the current directions affecting business and community activities:

Contact registers – what happens to your information?

Over the pandemic, directions about contact registers have required us to provide our contact information when we enter certain places in the community and have required those places to keep a record of that information. This is so that contact tracing can be done to track the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

If you are required to provide contact information (also called entry registration information), you must do so either manually or electronically (through the 'SafeWA' or 'ServiceWA' app). 

In June 2021 new laws were introduced to ensure better protection of your contact information. These laws are contained in the Protection of Information (Entry Registration Information Relating to COVID-19 and Other Infectious Diseases) Act 2021. They were backdated to apply to all contact information provided from 5 December 2020.

Under these laws, your contact information can only be used:

  • for contact tracing or something related to contact tracing, or
  • for obtaining statistical or summary information with approval from the Chief Health Officer, or
  • to investigate or prosecute offences related to providing or recording contact information, including giving false or misleading contact information, or
  • to investigate or prosecute offences related to storing, destroying, using or disclosing contact information.

Any other use of contact information is not allowed.

Contact information must be stored securely by the venue for 28 days (starting from the day after it is provided). It must be destroyed as soon as possible after that, unless it is needed for contact tracing, the investigation of an offence or court proceedings.  If it is needed for contact tracing, the responsible person for the venue will be told how long it must be kept and it must be destroyed as soon as possible after that.

It is an offence to fail to store contact information securely. It is also an offence to destroy it, or fail to destroy it, in accordance with these laws. The maximum penalty for these offences includes a fine of $20,000 and 12 months imprisonment.

 

Reviewed:  5 May 2022

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.