What is the penalty for breaching Coronavirus COVID-19 restrictions?

The penalties (fines) for breaching Coronavirus COVID-19 Restrictions, within South Australia, are imposed pursuant to the Emergency Management Act 2004 (SA). The outbreak of COVID-19 within South Australia has been declared as a Major Emergency. It is a criminal offence to breach a restriction (requirement or direction) imposed in relation to a Major Emergency. For an individual, the fine imposed can vary from $1,000.00 (expiation notice) to a maximum of $20,000.00 (court prosecution).

The restrictions (requirements and directions) imposed within South Australia for reasons associated with the Coronavirus COVID-19 can be found on the Government of South Australia - Legislation Website

>> Section 28 of the Emergency Management Act 2004 states:

28—Failure to comply with directions

(1)  A person must not, without reasonable excuse, refuse or fail to comply with a requirement or direction of the State Co-ordinator or of an authorised officer given in accordance with this Act during a declared identified major incident, major emergency or disaster.

Maximum penalty:

  (a)  if the offender is a body corporate—$75 000;

  (b)  if the offender is a natural person—$20 000.

However, an expiation notice can also be issued under the associated Regulations.

>> Regulation 6 of the Emergency Management Regulations 2009 states:

6—Authorised officers may give expiation notices

(1)  Subject to the Expiation of Offences Act 1996, an authorised officer is authorised to give expiation notices for alleged offences against section 28 of the Act.

(2)  The expiation fee for an offence against section 28 of the Act is fixed at—

  (a)  in the case of a natural person—$1 000; or

  (b)  in the case of a body corporate—$5 000.

Importantly, it should be noted that an alleged offence may be defended on the basis that there was a ‘reasonable excuse’ for refusing or failing to comply with a restriction (requirement or direction).