Australia was recently in the news for restricting the right to protest during a surge in COVID cases:

Hundreds of fines have been issued and dozens charged in Sydney after anti-lockdown protesters marched and clashed with police in what one deputy commissioner called “violent, filthy, risky behaviour”.

The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, said on Sunday the previous day’s protests – in which thousands breached the region’s coronavirus measures to protest – were “selfish and self-defeating”, adding: “It achieves no purpose. It won’t end the lockdown sooner.”

What type of protests are currently legal in NSW? From smallest to biggest:

  1. Posting "I disagree with lockdowns" on Facebook (virtual protest)
  2. Starting a video stream from home protesting the lockdowns
  3. Hanging a "I disagree with lockdowns" poster on your balcony
  4. Wearing a protest shirt outside your house, within the 5km travel boundary
  5. Standing outside alone, with a mask, holding a protest sign, while within the 5km boundary
  6. Gathering in a group of people, everyone masked up, 6 feet away, and only traveling within a 5km radius from ones home

The article seems to imply that all forms of protesting are now illegal, is this interpretation correct? Or did they only get penalized for violating the 5km rule and not wearing masks?

  • 1
    I don't know where in that article you would get the idea that "all forms of protesting are illegal". It states several times that the problem is people violating stay-at-home orders, which obviously wouldn't affect 1-3. Is there a particular passage from which you drew that inference? Aug 8, 2021 at 17:42
  • @Nate nowhere in the article was it explicitly said what law was violated so I assumed protesting agains the lockdown is just outright illegal no matter the form Aug 8, 2021 at 18:48
  • 1
    "... thousands breached the region’s coronavirus measures to protest ...", "... punish everyone who defied stay-at-home orders ...", Aug 8, 2021 at 19:15

1 Answer 1


The main restrictions that affect protests are set out in the Public Health (COVID-19 Additional Restrictions for Delta Outbreak) Order 2021 (NSW). Clause 20 of that order requires "affected persons" (basically everyone in Sydney and lockdown areas in regional NSW) to not leave their homes other than for permitted reasons.

The 5-10 km boundary applies to prohibit people from travelling outside the boundary for outdoor exercise or obtaining goods and services (both permitted reasons to leave home).

So in relation to the scenarios listed, if conducted in Sydney or other lockdown areas:

  • 1-3 would not be prohibited
  • 4 would be prohibited if "outside your house" is outside your place of residence, as protesting is not a permitted reason
  • 5 and 6 would be prohibited as protesting is not a permitted reason
  • However 4 would not be prohibited if you were outside your house for a permitted reason, e.g. essential shopping. The rules do not restrict clothing choices (e.g. wearing a shirt with an anti-lockdown sentiment printed on it) in any way beyond any existing laws around clothing.
    – Kayndarr
    Aug 9, 2021 at 6:39

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