By Michael Byrnes, Partner and Katrina Seck, Senior Associate
Effective 18 July 2021, the New South Wales Government has tightened stay at home orders in place across the Greater Sydney area (including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour) in response to escalating COVID-19 numbers and exposure sites. The new restrictions include:
- The closure of most retail premises with the exception of those providing essential products and services; and
- Restrictions to maintenance and cleaning services and a pause on construction activity.
People in the Greater Sydney area must stay at home unless there is a reasonable excuse not to do so. Specifically, workers are only allowed to leave home for work if the business in which they work is allowed to stay open and they are unable to work from home.
The corollary of that is employers must allow employees to work from home if they reasonably can and, in an increased effort to stop people interacting at workplaces, now face penalties of up to $10,000 if they do not do so. If employees are unable to work from home, and the workplace is allowed to be open, they must wear a face mask.
Employees who live in the Fairfield, Liverpool and Canterbury-Bankstown local government areas (LGA), which has borne the brunt of the most recent COVID-19 outbreak, cannot leave that LGA for work unless they are an “authorised” worker and have a COVID-19 test every 72 hours. The New South Government has prepared an authorised worker list from 11 industry sectors. The authorised workers list is somewhat broader than that foreshadowed by the government at the press conference on 17 July 2021.
Residents of the Fairfield, Liverpool and Canterbury-Bankstown LGAs can, however, go to work in the same LGA they live in if the business in which they work is allowed to be open, and they cannot work from home.
The restrictions are in place until midnight on 30 July 2021. However, with the number of COVID-19 cases still stubbornly high, whether Sydney comes out of lockdown on that date remains to be seen. We will keep an eye on developments and provide updates as an when they occur.