1 April 2020

NSW residents face $11,000 fine for breaking quarantine, ACT follows suit

| Dominic Giannini
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Brad Hazzard

NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard signed the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020 last night. Photo: Twitter.

UPDATED 2:40 pm NSW and ACT residents who leave their homes without a valid excuse could face fines of up to $11,000 or six months’ jail time as the states and territories toughen their social distancing and quarantine regulations to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The NSW public health order (PHO) came into effect today (31 March) and requires residents to stay home unless they are going to work, an education institution, to shop for food and essentials, get medical care or supplies, or exercise (subject to social distancing regulations).

The ACT Cabinet met this morning and agreed to follow NSW’s lead, including increasing ACT fines to match NSW.

“As signalled yesterday, the ACT will be adopting the same on-the-spot fine structure as NSW when enforcing restrictions designed to limit the spread of coronavirus in the ACT,” Chief Minister Andrew Barr said after today’s Cabinet meeting.

“The first phase of enforcing new rules will be about education and warnings; however, the second phase includes the capacity for police to issue on-the-spot fines and they will be identical to those set by NSW.”

Mr Barr further warned that if “there is flagrant abuse” of quarantine regulations, prosecutions may follow fines.

The NSW public health order codified Sunday’s National Cabinet recommendations, banning gatherings of two or more people unless they are members of the same household or a meeting is essential for work or education.

Corporations in NSW and the ACT can now be fined up to $55,000 if they break the rules, and will be slugged an extra $27,500 for each day they continue to offend.

Individuals will be liable for an extra $5,500 for each day they continue to break the rules.

Reasonable excuses for breaking quarantine include giving blood, leaving the house to avoid illness or escape harm, to deal with an emergency or on compassionate grounds, to access social services, or to visit your parents or children if you live apart.

The tougher restrictions were announced a day after a 30-year-old man was arrested for breaking his mandatory self-isolation a third time after arriving on a flight from Jordan on 18 March.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said officers would be enforcing the quarantine period and would not hesitate to take action against individuals who continue to ignore the law.

“Anyone who does not comply will be breaking the law, it is as simple as that. People need to take this seriously,” Commissioner Fuller said.

A full list of the rules and exemptions can be found at Public Health Orders.

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This morning a guy was hammering in ACT Govt signs around the lake closing the single exercise structures (used for sit-ups, pull-ups, stretches etc). Only one person can ever use these at a time and each one is separated by about 100m. I said this was a ridiculous over-reaction. He said he was just doing his job. So now we have the, “I was just following orders” response from employees of the ACT Govt. A very dangerous path we are allowing Barr to go down.

The one thing that does worry me. When all this has settled down and we are allowed to behave and live our lives as usual, what happens to this raft of new laws and legislation that has been dumped on us? Will they be repealed and scrapped or used in a way that they were not intended?

HiddenDragon7:41 pm 31 Mar 20

As things stand, NSW has a proportionately larger problem than Canberra, including many cases of community transmission, so their immediate resort to strict enforcement is understandable.

It will still be a delicate balance for the NSW authorities to maintain broad public support for the restrictions, particularly given public perceptions of culpability in the Ruby Princess debacle. The longer the restrictions (and the resultant isolation and economic hardship) persist, the greater the damage to an already frayed social fabric, and the greater the risks that the ensuing public discontent could be exploited – with truly dangerous consequences.

Let’s hope the ACT does not need to follow NSW with severe enforcement of severe restrictions.

canberran1214:41 pm 31 Mar 20

Is there a link to the ACT public health order?

completecommenter2:11 pm 01 Apr 20

Andrew Barr posted a copy (images only) on his Twitter account along with the announcement.


Darren Clarke1:54 pm 31 Mar 20

Why do co workers share a work vehicle????

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