30 June 2021

Mandatory mask grace period ends, fines of up to $8000 apply

| Dominic Giannini
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Sign warning Canberrans about new mask requirements

A COVID-19 sign warning Canberrans about new mask requirements (29 June). Photo: Region Media.

The 48-hour grace period for mandatory mask-wearing has ended in the ACT, with on-the-spot fines of $1000 or up to $8000 for more serious incidents in place.

ACT Policing initially took an educative, no-infringements approach to inform people about the new restrictions when they began on Monday (28 June).

Both ACT Policing and Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the vast majority of Canberrans had been compliant with the new mandate.

Mr Barr said people in the city understood why the mandate was put in place as a precautionary measure.

“If we are all wearing masks, it reduces the risk of someone with the virus transmitting it to five other people and that person transmitting it to another five and it spiralling out of control,” he said.

“We have more than half the country’s population in lockdown, so here in the ACT, the small imposition of wearing a mask in high-risk settings is a very sensible precaution.”

Mr Barr said police would issue infringement notices if there are obvious and egregious breaches.

“Police in the ACT are not heavy-handed or over the top. They continue to engage with the community,” he said.

“This is not an exercise of them going around looking to find thousands of people to fine. It is an exercise in keeping the community safe and the community has responded really well.

“My experience and the feedback we have been getting is that when people are not wearing a mask, it is more that they do not know rather than them deciding that they want to flout the law and thumb their nose at the rest of the community.”

ACT Policing is also conducting compliance checks on people under stay-at-home orders.

Forty officers visited about 90 hotels yesterday (29 June) to ensure they were aware of current health restrictions on guests who may have travelled from restricted areas. More than 1500 calls to people subject to the orders were conducted by police yesterday.

READ MORE Further stay-at-home restrictions issued for returned Canberrans

Acting Deputy Chief Police Officer Hall O’Meagher said he was pleased with the number of Canberrans cooperating with the stay-at-home orders.

“Everyone has shown during COVID-19 that taking collective action for the good of the community is important,” he said.

“We are urging everyone in the ACT to keep aware of the health directions as they are changing regularly. Wear a mask when required to do so and follow all directions for your benefit and the benefit of our community. ”

For the most recent information on the ACT’s COVID-19 restrictions, visit www.covid19.act.gov.au.

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But will continue to simply give warnings as everyone is doing such a good job. Get serious with the fines or don’t make it compulsory to wear the mask.

Happy to wear a mask but $1000 fines seem way, way over the top considering there’s no active cases and almost immediate/total compliance. Does the stick really need to be that big?

Government idea number 87. We’ve hit the ratepayers with enough costs this year, how can we get more revenue into the coffers? Fine the pants off anyone and everyone not wearing a mask, and like parking in the Parliamentary Triangle, instead of starting at $5 a day and incrementing up, we’ll hit the punters for $8000! Next, we’ll use speed cameras to catch people in their cars not wearing a mask. Man, this is like winning lotto. We can rainbow colour all roundabouts now!

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