The government’s advice, while admittedly confusing at times, is to stay home and limit unnecessary travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And until social distancing laws lift, the advice refers to one’s own place of permanent residence, not another persons home.
Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a statement that instructed all Australians to avoid non-essential travel — domestic or otherwise — ahead of the Easter long weekend, which usually sees many Australians head off on a trip away with friends or family.
“People should not be going away for Easter holidays,” he said in an address. “People should not be getting in their cars and going to other places.”
Now, the NSW government has taken further steps to ensure residents stay put, by threatening heaving fines for holiday-makers who stay in Airbnbs and other short-term rentals without a reasonable excuse.
“The government advice to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has been very clear — stay in your local area, stay in your home. This is NOT the time to travel or visit family and friends,” NSW Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson, said.
“Anyone in NSW who leaves their house without a ‘reasonable excuse’ could spend up to six months in prison and face a fine of up to $11,000 under the emergency ministerial directive.”
There are very limited excuses as to why someone may need to stay in a short-term rental property during the COVID-19 pandemic. Right now, only those who require a rental away from their primary home to carry out their work, education, or the caring of another person, is considered exempt from the new rules. Holidays do not count.
“The NSW Government advice to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has been very clear,” Anderson said in a statement. “As per the public health orders, people must stay home with the exception of a number of circumstances including work and to provide care.
“The NSW Government acknowledges that in these circumstances the provision of short-term accommodation is often critical, particularly for our frontline health workers.”
Reports that it is illegal to stay in short-term rental accommodation are incorrect, there is no ban on any kind of accommodation. The Government advice to prevent the spread of #COVID19 has been very clear. You must stay home with the exception of a few circumstances #nswpol
— Kevin Anderson MP (@Kevinandersonmp) April 6, 2020
Recently, Airbnb announced a new program that allows hosts to open their homes to frontline workers in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today, we’re proud to share that our incredible community of generous hosts have offered 100,000 places to stay for people responding to the pandemic,” Airbnb shared in a press release on April 3.
“Through this program, frontline staff can book both free and paid stays in 160 countries and regions, with hosts in Paris, New York City and London each offering over 2,000 places to stay in their cities for those doing lifesaving work.”
Airbnb waived all fees on the first 100,000 stays booked through this new initiative.
The current health crisis is evolving rapidly. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.