The 90-day lockdown: NSW police to enforce home isolation until at least end of June | Australia news

The NSW police commissioner has said the state’s restrictions on outdoor movements and public gatherings would remain in force for at least 90 days, but that he was hopeful of being able to relax them beyond that date: 29 June.

The Public Health (Covid-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020, which came into effect on Tuesday, has a 90-day sunset clause. The legislation also provides for the order to be revoked sooner if authorities deem it safe.

The order, however, can also be extended, or a new order imposed, if the threat of Covid-19 transmission remains.

Mick Fuller’s comments on Thursday are the strongest indication yet that NSW will go the full distance of the legislated 90-day lockdown period.

They follow the federal government reducing the allowable size of public gathering to just two people (who don’t live together), which has come down from 500 to 100, and then 10 over a little more than a fortnight.

Fuller said the rules would remain in place for 90 days, but, he hoped, not a day beyond.

“I certainly won’t be seeking an extension – people will have gotten the message by then, hopefully,” he said.

The commissioner conceded there was public confusion about what was permitted and what was prohibited. He urged people who were unsure about the rules to act as if they had Covid-19 and stay home in isolation.

“A good rule of thumb is that if you are questioning whether you should be doing something, it is best to give it a miss,” he said. “The safest place is at home in isolation.”

The NSW order makes it unlawful for any person in the state to leave their place of residence unless it’s for an essential purpose – shopping for essentials, exercising, medical or compassionate care, and working or studying that cannot be done from home.

The government gazette lists 16 “reasonable excuses” for a person to be outside their home. Leaving home without a reasonable excuse can now attract an $11,000 fine, or six month’s jail.

NSW’s 90-day lockdown is the longest state-mandated movement restriction. It appears draconian next to Victoria’s 14-day stay at home directions under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act. But Victoria’s restrictions – escalated to “Stage 3” on Tuesday – are designed to be regularly reviewed and extended.

“It is highly likely, that they will be further extended beyond that [April 13 date],” the premier, Daniel Andrews has warned the Victorian public of the social distancing measures currently in force in the state.

Andrews said widespread adherence to Stage 3 restrictions would delay, and possibly obviate, the need for Stage 4 and 5 lockdowns.

Queensland’s home confinement direction is in place “until the end of the declared public health emergency, unless they are revoked or replaced”.

It outlines eight essential reasons people are allowed to leave their homes.

Tasmania’s movement restrictions have been imposed for four weeks, from Monday. The only lawful excuses for leaving home are buying essential supplies, going to school or work, to exercise, or to check on neighbours or elderly relatives.

The rules, Premier Peter Gutwein has argued, are intended to avoid a “full lockdown” where no movement is permitted.

The Northern Territory has not gone into lockdown, although the territory’s borders are closed to travellers and some internal movement restrictions apply.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner has urged all Territorians to stay home “if you can”.

“When you’re out in public, around a lot of other people, you’re rolling the dice on your health and your family’s health,” he said. “Instead of rolling the dice choose the safest bet, stay home if you can.”

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