The Queensland Government has announced that the South East Queensland area will go into lockdown from 4.00 p.m. Saturday 31st July 2021. During the lockdown period people will only be able to leave their homes for essential reasons; grocery shopping, exercise, work and medical care.
We understand that this can be a confusing time for separated persons who have custody arrangements in place for children. We provide this article as general advice only as to the impact of lockdowns on custody arrangements.
The Queensland Government has previously provided an exception to the lockdown restrictions if you have existing legal obligations you must comply with. In short, under Queensland lockdown conditions you are permitted to leave your place of residence to continue existing Court sanctioned or informal arrangements for access to and contact between parents and children.
Accordingly, existing Court sanctioned or informal parenting arrangements should continue to be complied with, unless you and the other party agree otherwise (in writing is recommended).
There may be some persons whose custody arrangements require them to travel into or outside the South East Queensland area declared by the Queensland Government. The local government areas (LGAs) included in this lockdown are:
- City of Brisbane
- City of Gold Coast
- City of Ipswich
- Lockyer Valley Regional Council
- Logan City
- Moreton Bay Region
- Noosa Shire Council
- Redland City
- Scenic Rim Regional Council
- Somerset Regional Council
- Sunshine Coast Regional Council
As the above information is subject to change, you may confirm the current list of LGAs in lockdown by visiting the Queensland Health website here.
Qld Health has provided the following information in their FAQ as of 3rd August 2021:
For children under 18 who do not live in the same household as their parents or one of their parents – leaving a place of residence or entering a locked down area is allowed to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children – this includes court sanctioned arrangements and informal arrangements. This contact should not include people who are vulnerable to COVID-19, for example someone aged over 70, unless they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
You must abide by the lockdown restrictions in the locked down area and if you leave a locked down area you must continue to abide by the lockdown restrictions.
This means that if you are: –
- Travelling into the a lockdown area to comply with custody arrangements, you must then comply with the lockdown restrictions when you have returned home, for the duration of the lockdown period.
- Travelling out of the lockdown area to comply with custody arrangements, you can return home to the lockdown area. While outside the lockdown area you should comply with public health directives (i.e. mask wearing).
At the start of this current lockdown the public health order only allowed for movement to fulfil a “court sanctioned parenting order”, which seemed to exclude informal arrangements. Fortunately, informal arrangements were also included in an update on 3rd August so that parents with verbal agreements and informal parenting plans may continue those arrangements. The more comprehensive public health directive now says that you may leave your household:
to fulfil an obligation relating to shared parenting or child contact; or for children under 18 years who do not live in the same household as their biological parents or siblings or one of their parents or siblings, to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children and siblings, but not allowing access or contact with vulnerable groups or persons unless those persons are vaccinated persons;Restrictions for Locked Down Areas (South-East Queensland) Direction (No. 4)
As the information cited above is subject to change by the Queensland Government we recommend you always confirm the above information by checking their website at the links provided. We will stay on top of developments in the hope that the messaging remains clear and consistent.
This article provides general advice only. If you believe you have exceptional circumstances and would like further advice regarding your obligations, please do not hesitate to contact your Solicitor with the conduct of your matter.