Police will have the power to issue $1,000 on-the-spot fines for individuals and $5,000 for corporations not complying with ministerial directions relating to COVID-19, as part of a state-wide crackdown on reckless behaviour to slow the spread of the virus.
Officers will also no longer require a warrant to arrest an individual breaching a public health order, after the NSW Government passed legislation to give Police greater powers to enforce orders under the Public Health Act 2010.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said the measures were tough but necessary to minimise the risk the pandemic poses to public safety.
“Despite the majority of people doing the right thing, we are still seeing reckless and irresponsible behaviour that endangers the lives of others, particularly to elderly and immunocompromised members of the community,” Mr Elliott said.
“The rules are clear and they apply to everyone. No one is above the law. If you decide to ignore a direction, you will be caught and you may find yourself slapped with a hefty fine.”
“Our message to the community is simple: be vigilant, be sensible, and stay up to date with the latest health advice.”
Police also have the option to charge anyone found failing to comply with a ministerial direction, which carries a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and/or an $11,000 fine for an individual and $55,000 for a corporation.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the circumstances called for strong action – and police stand ready to respond.
“I’m encouraged that most members of the community are taking this issue seriously and adhering to government advice,” Mr Fuller said.
“However, disturbingly, our officers have already responded to dozens of reports of breaches of ministerial directions.”
Members of the public can report to Crime Stoppers if they hold concerns an individual or community is failing to comply with Public Health Orders.