$11,000 fines and 6 months in prison: The COVID-19 penalties in each state and territory.

This week, Australian states and territories have introduced extraordinary measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

On Sunday night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison introduced a ‘two-person public gathering limit‘ and warned Australians that states and territories will make this an enforceable limit.

Watch: Scott Morrison announces all Australians must stay home. Post continues after video. 

Video by Channel Nine

The exact details of the new restriction were a little unclear – you can see our full explainer on what the limit means, here. But what happens when you break the rule? There are different penalties depending on the state or territory you live in.

Here’s a breakdown of exactly what the penalty is for breaking the self-isolation rule.

New South Wales

On Monday night, New South Wales introduced extreme new laws under the Public Health Act 2010.

As of Tuesday, March 31, any person in NSW may be fined up to $11,000 or six months imprisonment (or both) if they leave their house without a “reasonable excuse”. The new law allows an additional $5500 for each day the offence continues.

For businesses, failure to comply with the new law will mean a fine of up to $55,000.

So, what is a reasonable excuse? This includes travelling for work or education, exercise, for medical or caring reasons, obtaining food, as well as more specific reasons such as donating blood, undertaking any legal obligations, attending a wedding or a funeral and more. You can access the full list of reasonable excuses here.


Victoria has also made the two-person restriction legally enforceable as of March 31.

In Victoria, individuals who breach the new rules can face a fine up to $1,600, with Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville saying on Tuesday the “leniency” period for on-the-spot COVID-19 fines has ended.

“Victoria Police will not hesitate to take action against you. That is how serious this is,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday.

“If you are having friends over for dinner or friends over for drinks that are not members of your household, then you are breaking the law.”

Businesses who break the rules may face a fine of up to $10,000.


In Queensland, households with more than two people are not allowed to invite guests for at least four weeks.

Queensland Police now have powers to issue on-the-spot fines of up to $13,345 for individuals and $66,672 for businesses to anyone breaching quarantine orders or social distancing measures.


Western Australia

Western Australia will introduce legislation that will see $1000 on-the-spot fines for people and $5000 fines for businesses who disobey self-isolation and gathering directives.

The new legislation under The Emergency Management Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020 will be introduced in WA parliament on Tuesday.


In Tasmania, Premier Peter Gutwein said those who breach the limit “will be able to be arrested. You will be charged and summonsed.”

According to Tasmania Police, there is a penalty of up to $16,800 for people gathering in groups of more than 10 people in public and private places.

Side note… The time has come for some good news… and it’s out there, we promise. Mamamia’s daily news podcast The Quicky has found all the good news stories at the moment. Post continues below.  

Australian Capital Territory

The Australian Capital Territory has issued a statement saying those in the nation’s capital must not leave their homes unless for the necessary reasons outlined by the PM on Sunday night.

In ACT, those who do not comply will be issued with warnings in the first instance. The statement said they would be “moving to implement stronger enforcement measures in the near future (such as fines)”.

The Public Health Act does state they can issue fines of up to $8,000 for people who breach orders to isolate.

Northern Territory

According to the Northern Territory Government, who have closed their borders to the rest of the country, the penalty for failing to comply with directions can be up to $62,800.

However, the NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said police would not be enforcing the two-person rule right now – but encouraged people to do the right thing – and said their priority was to secure the borders and protect remote communities.

“If it’s something that needs to be enforced down the track, we’ll do that. Police are currently enforcing a limit on groups of 10.”

South Australia

South Australia has said they will not be enforcing the two-person rule in their state right now.

“The advice coming from the National Cabinet is that gatherings of two or more should be discouraged and we’d certainly be encouraging people to take that as strong advice, to limit the number of people that they’re engaging with other than family members,” South Australia Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said.

“But when it comes to enforcement we’ll be looking at that 10 or more rule.”

In South Australia, failure to comply with the 10-person limit rule is $1,000.

Read more on COVID-19:

If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.

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Feature Image: AAP.