Protecting public officials and workers

During the COVID-19 pandemic, anyone who intentionally spits, coughs or sneezes at a public official or worker, or threatens to do so, may be given an on the spot fine of $1,378. They may also face criminal charges or 6 months imprisonment.

If a public official or other worker is exposed to COVID-19 as a result, it can mean that the person is no longer able to provide a critical service while the person is being tested or is required to undergo a period of isolation.

Public officials or workers include anyone at work or travelling to and from work during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • health workers and health department officials
  • police, fire and ambulance officers
  • government employees including council workers
  • retail workers
  • food delivery workers
  • transport workers e.g. ferry crews and bus, train, taxi and ride-share drivers
  • utilities workers, including electricity, gas and water meter readers
  • airport workers
  • teachers
  • corrective services officers
  • youth justice staff
  • members of the Australian Defence Force.

If you see someone sneeze, cough or spit at a public official or other worker, or threaten to do so, you should report it to Policelink on 131 444. You can also report anyone who threatens to sneeze, cough or spit at another person.

For full details read the Protecting Public Officials and Workers (Spitting, Coughing and Sneezing) Direction.