When stricter social restrictions were introduced by the prime minister on Sunday, March 29, four reasons were outlined as justifiable causes for a person to leave their home: to buy essential supplies; for exercise; for health or compassionate reasons; or for work. This was followed up by NSW officials on March 30 with a more detailed list of 16 reasons, after it had become apparent that certain grey areas in the original rules had led to widespread confusion. However, despite these efforts, many people have remained unclear on whether specific activities are still permitted.
One of the biggest questions has been: is it OK to visit your significant other? Good news for all you lovers, as NSW police commissioner Mike Fuller has now clarified that romantic trysts fall under the category of “compassionate or care” responsibilities and are therefore deemed essential and exempt from distancing rules.
However, this does not mean you can enjoy lying on the beach or an intimate picnic in the park. Even if you’re with a partner, restrictions on acceptable activities in public still apply: you can exercise together, walk to the supermarket together, or take a trip to the doctors' office. Beyond that, time with bae must remain behind closed doors.
While this headscratcher has been resolved, there is still plenty of confusion about what constitutes “exercise”. Fishing, for example, could well be classified as a person’s essential exercise, but Fuller says should fishing grounds become too crowded, anyone wetting a line would be expected to pack up and move on to less populated waters.
Where the application of social restriction rules are fuzzier, Fuller said police officers would use their discretion on a case by case basis, and that sanctions, such as an $11,000 fine, would not be issued without significant cause. So far, only four fines have been issued and one man, an Australian returning from overseas who broke his mandatory 14-day quarantine three times in two days, has been taken into custody.