As we pass the one-year mark since Covid-19 upended lives around the world, it is easy to understand the weariness of the virus. Whilst returning to our pre-pandemic lives is at the top of nearly everyone’s wish list, it is necessary to remember that restrictions still exist to protect the greater good.
A critical part of Western Australian efforts to curtail the spread of the virus and maintain all its citizens’ well-being is the Emergency Management Act in Western Australia.
How Does the Amended Version of the Emergency Management Act Work?
As of April 2020, the government of Western Australia amended the 2005 version of the Emergency Management Act. The amended version grants the government enhanced Public Health Powers as well as Emergency Powers.
These powers provide authorised officials significantly greater ability to restrict and monitor the citizens of Western Australia during the pandemic. Additionally, the government can enact regulations that limit entrance to WA and quarantine upon entering the state.
What Is the Public Health Powers?
The legal authority to impose restrictions deemed to be in the best interest of the state’s citizens is what is known as Public Health Powers.
What Is Emergency Powers?
Emergency Powers consist of the authority that exists whilst the area in question is part of an official state of emergency.
What Actions Can Authorised Emergency Personnel Take Based Upon the Emergency Management Act?
Persons named as emergency personnel have the authority to:
- Direct, control, or limit the movement of persons in and around Western Australia
- Close any road or waterway leading into or out of Western Australia
- Direct any person to evacuate, quarantine, undergo medical observation for up to 24 hours or take part in decontamination procedures
How Does the Emergency Management Act Apply During the Covid Crisis?
As WA struggles to contain and irradicate the Coronavirus, the Emergency Management Act helps protect the general population. A plethora of studies show that actions such as quarantining, wearing masks, and social distancing are effective ways to decrease the spread of the virus.
By allowing emergency workers to assist in enforcing such mandates, the Emergency Management Act helps to save countless lives and halt the spread of the virus.
What Are Some Examples of People Breaking the Laws That Pertain to Covid-19?
- There are cases of breaking Covid restrictions by taking part in seemingly harmless actions. An example of this is the case of Jonathan David. In April of 2020, David became the first person jailed in Western Australia for violating quarantine regulations. He left his hotel because he missed his girlfriend and wanted food. As a result of his actions, David will spend a month behind bars and received a $2000 fine.
- Occasionally, those violating Covid-19 restrictions are taking part in activities where they believe they are outsmarting authorities. For example, Asher Faye Vander Sanden had a legal exemption to fly into WA. However, as part of her entry, Vander Sanden had to quarantine for 14 days at her own expense.
Rather than enter legally, Vander Sanden chose to hide in a truck and sneak across the border into WA. Her actions in early August 2020 cost Vander Sandon much more than a hotel bill. Her sentence was six months jail time.
- Sometimes, people gather to break Covid protocols en masse as a part of a political or social statement. An example of this comes from Victoria, where authorities arrested more than 70 people. Those arrested defied a stay-at-home order to engage in a protest of mask requirements. An additional 176 people received fines for participating in this mass civil disobedience.
What Can I Do to Make Sure I Do Not Accidentally Break the Rules Regarding Covid Restrictions?
Whilst it is easy to lose track of the things you can and cannot do as they relate to Covid-19 restrictions, the best thing you can do is stay informed. The Western Australian government dedicated a part of their website to post the latest changes of Coronavirus laws.
Even though the outlook regarding the Covid-19 pandemic is brightening in some areas, it is necessary to remember that the dangers still exist. We all want our everyday lives to go back to our pre-pandemic existence. While we eagerly await a return to normalcy, our officials reevaluate the guidelines that govern our day-to-day activities.
At Lawson Legal, our team understands that it is easy to misunderstand what rules are in place at any given time in the face of ever-changing guidelines. That is why we strive to provide a fair defence to those who face charges related to breaking pandemic restrictions. If you or someone you know faces charges related to the Emergency Management Act in Western Australia, contact Lawson Legal. If you need us, call us; we are here for you.