NSW public health order officially released: all UNSW students who attended campus must go into lockdown, overriding NSW Health’s earlier statements

by Kat Wong

After a day of confusion and contradictions from NSW Health, the final legislation of the Sydney stay-at-home order has concluded that UNSW students who attended either the Kensington or Paddington campuses during the last fortnight are subject to lockdown restrictions.

The legislation states that anyone who lives or works in the affected areas (Woollahra, Randwick, Waverley, CBD) must not leave their homes without a reasonable excuse. A ‘reasonable excuse’ could be:

  • Shopping for essential goods and services
  • Traveling for the purposes of work or education if it is not possible to do at home
  • Exercise
  • Medical or care reasons, including to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination

According to the legislation, “work includes attending university or other tertiary education.” As a result, any university student who has attended the campuses over the last two weeks is subject to the stay-at-home order.

This clarification comes after a day of confusing, contradictory, and vague messaging from NSW Health. Throughout the day, some students who called NSW Health reported that they were told students were exempt from the public health order, some were told students were included, and others were told that there were no clear guidelines (which became self-evident throughout the day). Meanwhile, a NSW Health source told The Guardian that the order only applied to some students, further exacerbating confusion.

For now, UNSW has moved classes online at least until Week 7, and the university’s buildings will go into ‘secure mode’ until the end of the lockdown period. Any student who wishes to access the facilities must do so via swipe-card access, while wearing a mask.