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'Can I go to my holiday house?' What you can and can't do this Easter long weekend.

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the upcoming Easter break will look very different this year.

As the long weekend approaches, it’s hard to keep up with all the rules and regulations on what exactly you can and can’t do. But we’ve done the hard work for you, and collated the latest rules regarding what you are currently allowed to do over the Easter break.

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases surpasses 6,000 at the time of reporting, all Australians are advised to stay home unless they need to leave the house for an essential reason.

But does that mean you can still go for a drive? And what about visiting your family members?

Here are all your questions about the looming long weekend ahead, answered.

Can I go for a drive?

This depends entirely on where you are driving to.

Across Australia, residents are urged to avoid unnecessary travel. This means not leaving the house unless for one of the following reasons:

  • Shopping for what you need.
  • For medical care or compassionate needs
  • To exercise.
  • For work and education, if you cannot work or learn remotely.
  • Any other exemptions outlined by the state or territory you reside in.

If you are driving to carry out any of the above activities, then yes, you can go for a drive.

But what if you are just going for a drive to get out of the house or “just for fun”?

Well, that’s not essential travel, or considered an essential reason to leave your home. And ‘going for a road trip’ is certainly not considered an essential reason to leave the house.

Watch: Mamamia’s Claire Murphy answers your most common questions about COVID-19. Post continues below. 

Video by Mamamia

How enforceable this is by law depends on which state or territory you live in. In some states, such as NSW, Victoria and Queensland, if you are pulled over by police and do not have a reasonable excuse for leaving the house, you could be found to be breaking the law.

In Melbourne over the weekend, a learner driver received a $1,600 fine for having a driving lesson with her mum. Following the news, NSW Police have specifically clarified that taking a learner driver for a lesson is permitted in NSW.

Further to this, nationwide, you shouldn’t have more than two people in the car at once, unless they are members from your household.

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Can I go hiking?

So you can’t go driving “just for fun”, but what if you decide to go hiking somewhere that is a couple hours drive from your house? Does that qualify as leaving your house to ‘exercise’?

The national guidelines advise everyone to stay in their local communities to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. But again, how enforceable this is depends on what state or territory you live in.

For example, in Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews told residents that exercise must be local and does not mean “driving for miles or being out all day”.

NSW is the same – you should not be driving for hours to another location to ‘exercise’.

As for national parks and other places you may typically go hiking, many have closed across Australia due to the coronavirus.

So if you live locally to a national park and decide to go for a hike, make sure to check your local council or State Government national parks website to see what is still open.

Can I visit my family?

Federal guidelines say families that are split over two households can still visit each other.

However, some states have said you can only visit your family if it is for an essential reason such as “care or compassionate needs”.

In NSW and Victoria, seeing family members who you do not live with for social reasons is not considered a “reasonable excuse”, according to The GuardianWhereas in other states and territories, there is more leniency for seeing your family members for social purposes.

In all family situations, social distancing guidelines such as the 1.5 metre rule should be observed.

Also, you should not be visiting elderly relatives or those most at risk at suffering severe symptoms of COVID-19.

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Can I go on holiday interstate?

No. Now is not the time to go on a holiday.

The Australian government clearly states: “Australians should stay at home this Easter and not undertake holiday travel.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated during a press conference, “Those holidays that you may have been planning to take over the school holidays are cancelled.”

In most Australian states and territories, there is currently a mandatory quarantine period if you’re crossing the border.

Can I go on to my holiday home?

Again, all holidays – whether in your home state or not – should be cancelled.

This includes travel within your own state, as the government advises you not to visit regional or smaller communities to avoid exhausting their already-limited resources.

Going on holiday is not considered essential travel, whether interstate or intrastate.

But Victorian Police Minister, Lisa Neville has said that you can travel to properties you own, if you must.

“Yes, legally you can stay at your holiday home… but don’t do that,” Neville said.

“Create your own traditions at home.

“Do not go and travel to our regional and coastal communities this weekend — it’s only the people you currently live with that can go with you.”

How will police be enforcing the rules? 

Police in NSW and ACT have said that they will be patrolling country roads, highways and caravan parks to make sure people are doing the right thing.

On Wednesday NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said, “We will be going through caravan parks early, issuing warnings to people that may think they can get around these laws.

“People will be given one opportunity to pack up, go back to your home state and go back home. Otherwise, we will, unfortunately, have to issue tickets.”

Not only will double demerits start on April 9, but they will be using number plate recognition to ensure people stay home.

In essence, everyone should stay at home this Easter break to slow the spread of COVID-19.

If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.

Feature Image: Getty. 


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