Laws Brought in Under the Public Health Act
The first step in bringing COVID-19 laws into force involves Section 14 of the Public Health Act – this section lets the Director of Public Health declare a public health emergency. The first time Tasmania’s Director of Public Health issued a notice declaring a public health emergency, as a result of the Covid-19 virus, was in March 2020.
The maximum period a public health emergency can be declared for is 12 weeks so it has been repeatedly extended. Once a public health emergency has been declared the Director of Public Health is able to use their emergency powers under Section 16 of the Public Health Act to issue directions in relation to the emergency. These directions then effectively become temporary laws, enforceable by Tasmanian State Government agencies and Tasmania Police.
Under the Public Health Act the Director of Public Health has the power to make laws which:
- Direct people to quarantine or isolate in a certain part of Tasmania and;
- Direct people to evacuate part of Tasmania and;
- Prevent or permit people from accessing part of Tasmania and;
- Control the movement of vehicles around Tasmania and;
- Direct a specified person to undergo a clinical assessment and;
- Direct that any substance, or any thing be seized or destroyed and;
- Make any other direction the Director of Public Health considers appropriate.
If a person does not comply with a direction they may face a fine up to 100 penalty units, or up to six months in jail. It is more likely that they will receive a fine, which is currently 9 penalty units.