COVID-19 Extension Act: An Update on some Key Changes

On 2 December 2020, the COVID-19 Emergency Response and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020 (COVID Extension Act’)was passed by the Queensland Parliament. This was later assented on 4 December 2020.

One of its key objectives, as articulated by the Explanatory Notes, is to ‘extend the operation of all COVID-19 related legislation which is still required to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 emergency until 30 April 2021’.[1] Accordingly, a variety of legislations, including the following, were amended to give effect to this extension:

  • Corrective Services (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020;
  • Domestic and Family Violence Protection (COVID-19 Emergency Response);
  • Education Legislation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020;
  • Health Legislation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020;
  • Retail Shop Leases and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020 (‘Retail and Commercial Lease Regulations);
  • Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020;
  • Justice Legislation (COVID-19 Emergency Response—Community Titles Schemes and Other Matters) Regulation 2020 (including amendments contained in this Regulation made under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 and the Building Units and Group Titles Act 1980);
  • Justice Legislation (COVID-19 Emergency Response—Documents and Oaths) Regulation 2020 (Documents and Oaths Regulation); and
  • Youth Justice (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020.[2]

The amendments made under the COVID Extension Act have been made in a manner that ensures any future extensions (if required) could be affected by a single amendment to the definition of COVID-19 legislation expiry day in section 4A of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 (‘the Act’).

Aside from these extensions, several other key changes was also given effect through the COVID Extension Act. One such change is the insertion of ‘transitional provisions’.

Transitional provisions

Another key objective of the COVID Extension Act was to put in place mechanisms to facilitate transitional matters required to return to normal operations once COVID-19 legislations are no longer needed.  

The Act currently does not contain any transitional provisions or powers for regulations to be made in order to facilitate this. Accordingly, section 25 of the Act was inserted to allow a Transitional Regulation to make any provisions necessary to facilitate the transition to normal operations post COVID-19. These arrangements will cover areas that are not sufficiently addressed by existing COVID-19 legislations and provide clarity to both the public, and stakeholders affected by COVID-19legislations.

Retail and Commercial Lease Regulations

Another area to be addressed is whether the extension period under the Retail and Commercial Lease Regulations will be extended.

There are currently no intentions based on the COVID Extension Act and its Explanatory Notes to provide further extension of the extension period. However, rights and obligations that have been accrued under the Lease Regulations by an affected lease in the response period and extension period are still preserved and will continue to operate after the end of the lease protection period.

Other changes

Other changes include:

  • amendments to the Body Corporate and Community Management (Accommodation Module) Regulation 2020 which will commence on 1 March 2021 providing a range of provisions to ensure compliance with a public health direction;
  • the extension of the Queensland Small Business Commissioner’s stay in office;
  • changes to the Liquor Act removing restrictions on sales to the public of the liquor of artisan distillers; and
  • other changes to the Youth Justice Act 1992.  

This article was written by Ervin Hii

[1] See COVID-19 Emergency Response and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 Explanatory Notes: https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/pdf/bill.first.exp/bill-2020-050.

[2] For other legislations amended see COVID-19 Emergency Response and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 Explanatory Notes: https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/pdf/bill.first.exp/bill-2020-050 p 3 to 4; see also COVID-19 Emergency Response and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020: https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/pdf/asmade/act-2020-038.

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