Home Australia Can I drive under coronavirus restrictions? How many passengers? Answering your Easter weekend driving questions

Can I drive under coronavirus restrictions? How many passengers? Answering your Easter weekend driving questions

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As the Easter weekend approaches, there is a great temptation to hit the road, but authorities have warned drivers to think carefully before grabbing their keys.

Conscious of keeping coronavirus under control, police across the country have redoubled their efforts to crack down on non-essential travel.

So what is essential? Can you drive to see a partner or a relative? What about a quick trip to a holiday home or for a leisurely cruise around town?

Each state and territory has different rules so here is a breakdown of what you can and cannot do behind the wheel this long weekend.

Can I drive to see my partner?

Broadly, drivers must have a reasonable excuse to leave their homes.

These can include: shopping for food or supplies, travelling for work, to obtain health care or to exercise.

In New South Wales, the listed reasons do not specify driving to see a partner, but earlier this week NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said visits would be allowed for “caring reasons”.

“We have to look after each other, but don’t take the whole family with you. Don’t take your grandparents,” he said.

In Victoria, similar restrictions apply but partners are an exception. If you live apart, you can visit each other at home.

South Australians have been implored to adhere to the “spirit of directions” about travel and restrictions on social gatherings are less strict.

Visits where care or support are being provided have been allowed.

Police in Tasmania have warned there will be “choppers in the sky” to ensure residents are not leaving their primary residence unless accessing essential services like food or medical supplies.

In Western Australia, partners are able to visit each other if they live within the same region.

But those living in separate households must continue to practice social distancing in each other’s presence.

Yes, really.

Queenslanders and ACT residents can have up to two visitors in their household at a time but they must also practise social distancing.

Those in the NT have been told not to gather in groups of more than two people, except with immediate family, if they need to travel outside the home.

Can I drive with others?

For the most part, yes. But there are conditions.

In the ACT, NT and Queensland, a person can travel with those living in the same household, or with one other person.

There are explicit exemptions in Queensland for the elderly or people with a disability who require extra assistance.

According to the NSW Government, bans on the gathering of more than two people do not apply in cars or at public transport stops.

Victorians have been “strongly discouraged” from carrying passengers except those who live in the same household.

The advice is less clear in South Australia, where there must be one person per four square metres.

Commissioner of Police Grant Stevens told the ABC earlier this week:

“Anybody who goes against the very strong advice not to travel, still must comply with social distancing requirements,” he said.

The rules in Tasmania and Western Australia are similarly vague but their governments have warned all passengers need an essential reason to travel.

In WA, colleagues can travel to work together as long as they are healthy and take “usual hygiene precautions”.

Can I travel to my holiday home?

The message across the board is pretty much, no.

Police across all states and territories will be focusing substantial resources on catching holidaymakers.

Even NSW Government MPs have not been spared.

In Victoria, though, you are allowed to travel between properties that you own.

What happens if I’m caught driving without a valid reason?

Drivers who cannot provide a valid reason for being on the road will be turned back by police.

They could also be sent on their way with a hefty fine.

Western Australia appears to have the most expensive penalty with people facing up to $50,000 for flouting its travel restrictions.

SA, WA, NT and ACT residents who breach self-isolating and social distancing laws can expect around a $1,000 fine.

In Queensland, the maximum penalty is $13,300, while Tasmanians could have to fork out $16,800, or face six months in prison.

Police in Victoria can issue fines up to $1,652 who fail to comply with public health directions around gatherings.

NSW drivers could spend six months in prison, or be forced to pay $11,000 plus $5,500 per day if they continue to break the rules.

 

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