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Aged Care Facilities and COVID-19

On 18 March 2020, the Federal Government announced that tighter restrictions were to be imposed to protect vulnerable elderly people in residential aged care facilities from COVID-19. Citizens over the age of 70 or over 65 with chronic conditions are significantly more likely to die as a result of contracting COVID-19. In New South Wales, these restrictions have been adopted by the  Public Health (COVID-19 Aged Care Facilities) Order 2020 (NSW), which restricts access to aged care facilities considerably.

Entering and remaining on premises of aged care facilities

Under the Minister’s direction, a person must not enter or remain on the premises of a residential aged care facility during the period of the public health emergency unless:

  1. they are an employee or contractor of the facility, or
  2. they are on the premises of the facility for one of the following purposes—
  • providing goods or services that are necessary to the facility;
  • providing health, medical or pharmaceutical services to a resident;
  • making a care and support visit to a resident and it is the only care and support visit the resident receives on the day;
  • end-of-life support for a resident;
  • emergency management or law enforcement; or
  • the person is on the premises in their capacity as a prospective resident; or
  • the person has an exemption from the Minister, in writing.

Persons not to enter aged care facilities

A person must not enter or remain in a residential aged care facility if:

  • they have arrived in Australia from a place outside Australia in the last 14 days; or
  • they have had known contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days;
  • they have a temperature higher than 37.5 degrees or symptoms of acute respiratory infection; or
  • they do not have an up-to-date vaccination against influenza if the vaccination is available to them.

Responsibility of operators of the aged care facilities

Operators of residential aged care facilities must take all reasonable steps to ensure that persons do not enter or remain on the premises of the facility in contravention to the above regulations.

Penalties for breaching orders

It is an offence to breach orders made under the Public Health Act 2010 and this offence attracts heavy penalties. The NSW government has published a helpful guide to these rules and regulations. 

An individual can be fined up to $11,000, or imprisoned for six months, or both and a further $5500 penalty may be imposed for each day the offence continues. The NSW Police may also issue on-the-spot fines of $1000 to individuals who commit an offence.

A corporation can be fined up to $55,000 and a further $27,500 penalty can be imposed or each day the offence continues.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Tyson Brown

This article was written by Tyson Brown

Tyson Brown holds a Bachelor of Business from Swinburne University, a Juris Doctor from RMIT and a GDLP from ANU. He is admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the High Court of Australia. Tyson is a valued and trusted member of the Criminal Law team, having first joined Armstrong Legal over five years...

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