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COVID 19 Restrictions: To ride or not to ride?

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Motorbike riding restrictions in place

The question that appears to be on everyone’s mind at the moment is whether to ride or not. Here’s our preliminary view:

It would appear that we are governed by the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020, which appears to have been signed by Brad Hazzard on 30 March 2020 at 10.20pm. As this is a rapidly escalating and changing situation no one knows when this order will be changed.

The order prescribes:

Part 2 Movement

5 Direction of Minister concerning staying at home

(1) The Minister directs that a person must not, without reasonable excuse, leave the person’s place of residence.

(2) For the purposes of subclause (I), a reasonable excuse includes doing an activity specified by Schedule I.

Note. Examples of a reasonable excuse in Schedule 1 include leave for reasons involving-

1. (a) obtaining food or other goods and services, or

2. (b) travelling for the purposes of work or education if it is not possible to do it at home, or

3. (c) exercise, or

4. (d) medical or caring reasons.

(3) Subclause (2) does not permit a person to participate in a gathering in contravention of Part 3.

(4) Taking a holiday in a regional area is not a reasonable excuse.

(5) Subclause (I) does not apply to a person who is homeless.

According to this order we are not to leave our residence without reasonable excuse. They provide some examples of what may constitute a reasonable excuse. You can see a more definitive list in Schedule 1 of the order of what constitutes a reasonable excuse as follows:

Schedule 1 Reasonable excuses

1. obtaining food or other goods or services for the personal needs of the household or other household purposes (including for pets) and for vulnerable persons

2. traveling for the purposes of work if the person cannot work from the person’s place of residence

3. travelling for the purposes of attending childcare (including picking up or dropping another person at childcare)

4. travelling for the purposes of facilitating attendance at a school or other educational institution if the person attending the school or institution cannot learn from the person’s place of residence

5. exercising

6. obtaining medical care or supplies or health supplies or fulfilling carer’s responsibilities

7. attending a wedding or a funeral in the circumstances referred to in clause 6(2)(d) and (e) or 7(1)(h)

8. moving to a new place of residence (including a business moving to new premises) or between different places of residence of the person or inspecting a potential new place of residence

9. providing care or assistance (including personal care) to a vulnerable person or providing emergency assistance

1O. donating blood

11. undertaking any legal obligations

12. accessing public services (whether provided by Government, a private provider or a non-Government organisation), including-

1. (a) social services, and

2. (b) employment services, and

3. (c) domestic violence services, and

4. (d) mental health services, and

5. (e) services provided to victims (including as victims o f crime)

13. for children who do not live in the same household as their parents or siblings or one of their parents or siblings–continuing existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children or siblings

14. for a person who is a priest, minister of religion or member of a religious order- going to the person’s place of worship or providing pastoral care to another person

15. avoiding injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm

16. for emergencies or compassionate reasons

So if you fall within one of the reasonable excuses you can leave your residence and ride or drive. It would appear that one of those reasonable excuses is exercise. I know that there is some debate that riding a motorbike is exercise. Now hypothetically we know the local highway patrol is looking for any reason to drive bikes off the road. As defence lawyers we’ve seen that where an officer has discretion it generally gets administered against the rider.

So… if your friendly local highway patrol officer decides to give you a ticket worth many thousands of dollars are you going to fight it in court? If you do go to court how many Magistrates are going to consider that riding a motorbike is exercise?

Further if you were to rely on any of the other reasonable excuses the question is can it be justified. So would me deciding to attend a supermarket in the Hunter Valley despite the fact I live in Sydney be justified and withstand the scrutiny of the court in a defended hearing?

Secondly some people are confusing the restrictions on no more than two people being outdoors with the reasonable excuse rule. They are two distinct issues in two different sections of the order. So if you have a reasonable excuse to be out then the two person outdoor rule applies with more exceptions to that two person rule, such as weddings and funerals to name a few.

So if you do ride make sure you satisfy the requirements of a reasonable excuse.


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