People breaking social distancing guidelines will be given fines and possibly jail time, the NSW Police announced amid tough new coronavirus restrictions.
- The fines over flouting rules on social distancing and self-isolation come into force at midnight tonight
- NSW Police said they have 70,000 officers ready to patrol for compliance
- Police are also receiving tip-offs about breaches through Crime Stoppers
The NSW Police Minister David Elliott said individuals would be given fines of $1,000 and corporations would be hit with fines of $5,000 for breaches.
The new penalties would also extend to people found to be not following self-isolation rules.
Police also said people could also be jailed for up to six months under existing enforcement powers.
Mr Elliott said following on from the Prime Minister’s directions on Tuesday night, these latest measures would send the message that it was taking all precautions extremely seriously.
“We need to kill this virus before it kills us,” he said.
“For that reason the NSW Parliament introduced last night swift and certain penalties for people that don’t obey the law.”
To back these measures, there will be increased police patrols — up to 70,000 officers — in the community and random checks based on tipoffs through the Crime Stoppers hotline.
The increased police presence will also include public order and riot officers kitted out with masks and personal protective equipment, Mr Elliott said.
He said the NSW Government did not like bringing in this kind of legislation and that there would be a “sunset clause” to remove it in due time.
However, he said it was “quite clear” over the past few days including scenes at Bondi Beach and elsewhere that people had been “blatantly ignoring” the law”.
“We don’t rule out any further developments when it comes to the enforcement of these regulations. Everything is on the table,” Mr Elliott said.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said circumstances called for a stronger response from law enforcement.
“This health crisis is like nothing we have ever experienced,” he said.
He said while most members were taking government advice seriously, officers were already responding to dozens of reports of breaches.
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“This is astounding, and incredibly disappointing, as these people are putting themselves and the wider community at an unacceptable risk.”
The new penalties will come into effect from midnight.