Breach of social distancing for coronavirus will lead to $1,000 fines, NSW Police announce

| 25.03,20. 04:37 PM |

Breach of social distancing for coronavirus will lead to $1,000 fines, NSW Police announce

PHOTO: A closed sign at Bondi Beach, as social distancing rules continue to hit home. (AAP: Joel Carrett)

People breaking social distancing guidelines will be given fines and possibly jail time, the NSW Police announced amid tough new coronavirus restrictions.

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.

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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.

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.

"I'm encouraged that most members of the community are taking this issue seriously and are adhering to the government advice.

"However, disturbingly, our officers have already responded to dozens of reports of breaches of ministerial directions from members of the community.

"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.


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