NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has this afternoon revealed a raft of increased police powers that will give them the ability to hand out massive on-the-spot fines to any individuals or businesses that are found to be ignoring or not observing social distancing measures throughout the coronavirus shutdown period.
Individuals who are caught flouting social distancing laws could be hit with a $1,000 on-the-spot fine, under the new powers. Meanwhile businesses or corporations circumventing the restrictions could be handed a fine of $5,000.
These fines will apply to individuals who return from overseas and do not observe the mandatory 14-day quarantine, or those who circumvent the mass gathering restrictions of 100 people for indoor events or 500 for outdoor ones.
Theoretically, that means that at a private house party that attracts more than 100 people, every person in attendance could be hit with a $1,000 fine. It also potentially applies to large crowds of people gathering at previously closed beaches.
More to that, though, the fines will also apply to the stricter gathering limitations handed down last night by the Morrison Government, including the 5-person limit for weddings and the 10-person limit for outdoor personal training sessions.
In a media conference this afternoon, Commissioner Fuller stated “If you have the coronavirus and you go into the community putting it at risk, you could face an on-the-spot-fine. I would much rather be writing out tickets… that might get people’s attention to start listening to the health minister, start listening to the Premier and the Prime Minister.”
“If you don’t need to be outside at the moment don’t go outside,” Fuller asserted.
The expanded police powers and harsh fines have been introduced in response to scenes across the weekend which saw hundreds of people ignore the softer social distancing recommendations to crowd Bondi Beach, in scenes that attracted widespread condemnation.
The new fines will apply as of midnight tonight.Image: AAP