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Why are rules and restrictions different between states?

Explaining the COVID-19 directions process

We understand that there is a lot of confusion and concern over what COVID-19 rules and restrictions people in South Australia must follow.

In order to help with the confusion, we wanted to provide some clarification.

Every Australian state, and every police organisation, has different laws, rules and regulations. That is why, for example, road rules and fines are slightly different in each state. This is also why double demerits exist in some states and not others.

This means when you see the media reporting on one incident in one state, it does not necessarily mean it is law in South Australia.

If you see the media reporting on something “police” are enforcing, please pay attention to which police organisation they are specifically talking about, as the use of “police” is a broad term and it very rarely includes every Australian police organisation.

When you see the Prime Minister publicly talking about COVID-19 in a national press conference, his recommendations and advice should always be taken on board by the general public as it is vital in helping put a stop to COVID-19 in this country.

However, when the Prime Minister makes recommendations to the states about restriction guidelines relating to COVID-19, each state must then consider how those recommendations will be applied. They are not enforceable in South Australia until the State Coordinator, Commissioner Grant Stevens, enacts a Direction.

So what rules and restrictions do South Australians have to follow?

In South Australia, when the State Coordinator, Commissioner Grant Stevens, enacts a Direction, it must be followed by everyone living in, and entering, South Australia.

A Direction is a legal document and it is enforceable by law. Various penalties apply for breaching a Direction.

There are multiple Directions currently in place in South Australia. We publicly publish information about all of them on our social media channels and SA Police website. We also send this information to media outlets. However, given the current news cycle, we understand this information can often be missed.

That is why it’s vital that you take it on board to familiarise yourself with the Directions.

SA's Directions

Find every current Direction on one page.

Click on each link to find the specific details and FAQs about each Direction. We urge everyone who lives in, or plans to visit South Australia to read these Directions, because they apply to you.

We understand that the information can be very overwhelming, but reading these Directions will help you understand what is legal and what is not, straight from the source.

Other important information

Outside of the Directions, your best source of news for COVID-19 restrictions and health advice will be from SA government websites, including SA Health and SA Police news and media releases:


Due to the influx of comments on our social media channels, we cannot feasibly answer every question, especially when so many enquiries are on a case-by-case basis.

These are unprecedented times, and we cannot realistically supply an answer to very specific questions on social media.

Instead you can call the SA COVID-19 Information Line on 1800 253 787 between the hours of 9am to 5pm seven days a week.

Please also do not report crime, including anything related to COVID-19, via our social media channels. Call 131 444, your local police station, or in an emergency call Triple Zero (000).

And if you are still in doubt, remember to use common sense. Stay home, stay safe, look after yourself and others.