Will I be fined if I accept a holiday booking during the period of the State of Emergency?

No, accommodation providers (unless they are a caravan park or camping ground operator that has been instructed to close) cannot be fined for accepting a booking.

However, under the Victorian Chief Health Officer’s Stay at Home Direction and Restricted Activity Direction, your guests could be fined up to $1,652 if they have unnecessarily left their home.

The rules are clear, Victorians must stay home.

There are only four reasons for Victorians to leave their home:

  1. Food and supplies
  2. Medical care and care giving,
  3. Exercise
  4. Work or education – if necessary.

These measures are unprecedented, but these sacrifices will help save lives.

The ‘Stay at Home’ period runs until at least midnight on 13 April 2020. For accommodation providers, you are strongly advised not to accept bookings for leisure travel during this period.

Accommodation should only be provided to:

  • People who live there permanently
  • People without a permanent place of residence
  • People whose permanent place of residence is temporarily unavailable
  • People who have travelled to Victoria for work
  • People who were already staying there temporarily at the time the restrictions came into force
  • People who need emergency accommodation as a result of family violence or other threat
  • People who require accommodation for work, where their work is helping to limit the spread of coronavirus.

If you have existing holiday bookings for this period, according to Consumer Affairs Victoria, explicit travel advice, such as the Chief Health Officer’s “Stay at Home” direction, will trigger a ‘frustrated contract’ under the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012, and the customer will be entitled to a refund of any payments already made.  However, the law may also entitle you to any reasonable expenses you incurred before you or the customer cancelled.  It’s best to talk to your customer to negotiate alternative arrangements.  For example, hold the deposit over to be used at a different time.

To support the latter, the “Don’t travel this Easter. Postpone your holiday and stay home” message has been incorporated in the broader State Government coronavirus messaging.

Organisers may deduct reasonable expenses they have already incurred from any refund. Organisers should have clear refund policies and processes in place, to ensure they meet their obligations. Read more.

Dr Stuart Toplis
Manager Industry Sustainability | Tourism, Events & Visitor Economy Branch
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions