FCW Lawyers

COVID-19 Daily Brief | 18 March 2020

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COVID-19 has had a rapid rate of infection within Australia. The infection rates are compounding each day with an expected peak weeks, maybe months away.

From today onwards FCW Lawyers will update you regularly on the evolving situation of COVID-19 and the impact it may have on businesses and we will provide recommendations where we can.

On 17 March 2020 the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued an urgent warning to reconsider the need for overseas travel at this time and if a person decides to return to Australia they will now be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The states have followed suit by issuing quarantine and isolation requirements:

  • New South Wales made the Public Health (COVID-19 Quarantine) Order 2020 required all people who arrive in NSW from overseas to isolate themselves for a quarantine period of 14 days, with limited exceptions relating to emergencies or obtaining medical supplies or care.

People who breach the order, aimed at minimising coronavirus cases, could be jailed for up to six months or fined up to $11,000, plus a further $5,500 fine for each day the offence continues. Corporations involved in a breach could be fined up to $55,000, plus $27,500 each day the offence continues.

  • Victoria has announced a four-week state of emergency, cancelling mass gatherings and giving the Chief Health Officer powers to enforce 14-day isolation requirements for travelers entering Australia, with fines of up to $20,000 and $100,000 for individuals and corporations that breach isolation directives.
  • ACT declared a coronavirus-related public health emergency despite the limited cases of COVID-19 being confirmed in the territory and called for the state to take the self-isolation instructions seriously.
  • Western Australia has stressed that it is crucial that workers with coronavirus symptoms don’t feel forced to attend work for financial reasons, The government has supported this by introducing up to 20 days’ paid leave to public sector workers, including casual employees, affected by COVID-19.

It is essential you have a clear policy, process, directions, advice around closure/stand downs and guidelines around how to manage workspaces that can’t be undertaken remotely and the process necessary for remote work. Please contact Andrew Douglas on [email protected] or on +61 488 151 503 for immediate advice.

Disclaimer: This is intended for guidance purposes only on the considerations to which a business should have regard in managing COVID-19 issues with their employees. Information on COVID-19 is being revised by governments and regulators in Australia and overseas on a regular basis and therefore guidance for business may change. This guidance is not a substitute for legal advice which is tailored to the specific circumstances of your business.