ACT social distancing rules extended for another 90 days

Michael Weaver 2 April 2020 32
ACT's Chief Police Officer Ray Johnson

“We want to educate first before we move to warnings and fines,” says ACT’s Chief Police Officer Ray Johnson. Photo: File.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has introduced new legislation today (2 April) that will see social distancing measures in place 90 days.

The measures, which are similar to those in NSW, are not designed to be permanent and can be removed if the situation with the COVID-19 virus eases.

“These measures remain in legislation and do not require parliament to remove it, but they lapse after a certain period of time, and there are processes for a review,” Mr Barr told ABC Radio this morning.

“These measures are for public health emergencies only.”

The Bill will have a sunset clause meaning that the new measures will begin to phase out as the community recovers from the coronavirus.

Similar to NSW where a Public Health Order came into effect on 31 March, social distancing laws prohibit non-essential public gatherings of more than two people and require residents to stay home unless they are going to work or an educational institution, to shop for food and essentials, get medical care or supplies, or exercise.

Canberra’s Chief Police Officer says while Canberrans are mostly heeding the new social distancing laws, officers will focus on educating the community before taking action.

“Our message is clear – if you have no reason to go out, don’t go out,” Chief Police Officer Ray Johnson said.

“If you’re asking the question ‘is what I’m doing compliant?’, then you’re asking the wrong question. You should be asking ‘is what I’m doing safe for the people I love?’”

While on-the-spot infringement notices are being issued by police throughout NSW, the ACT’s Chief Police Officer said police are partnering with several ACT Government agencies to educate people about their responsibilities and encouraging them to comply.

“If you are outside and police suspect you may not be complying with the directions, our officers may have a conversation with you to find out the reasons why you are not at home,” Assistant Commissioner Johnson said.

The situation has changed rapidly in the past few weeks, and ACT Policing has been acting and responding to the new health measures progressively.

“ACT’s response to compliance measures with the COVID-19 directions remains a staged one – we want to educate first before we move to warnings and fines.”

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 for serious offences. Lesser on-the-spot fines can also be issued, while individuals will be liable for an extra $5,500 for each day they continue to break the rules.

“We do not want to see large groups of people together around the lake or in Canberra’s parks,” Assistant Commissioner Johnson said.

“Although you can’t be in large groups, for now, it’s okay to go outside by yourself or with someone from your household. Do not stop and chat with friends if you see them, and if passing others, keep a distance.”

He said Canberra’s whole-of-government response to addressing the spread of the COVID-19 virus also means the people should be doing the right thing by each other and staying home where possible.

“If you don’t follow the directions, you not only risk enforcement you are risking someone’s life.

“Now is the time to support each other, and be kind and considerate during this uncertain time.”

Assistant Commissioner Johnson said two men were arrested in Civic on the weekend after spitting and coughing on people while claiming they had the coronavirus.

“Unfortunately, just a few days ago two people’s words and actions saw them charged for acts to cause public alarm,” he said.

“While most people in our community are doing the right thing, I am concerned that some aren’t taking the compliance measures seriously.

“I urge people to follow the rules and think before you act. Your safety and the safety at the entire community should be at front of mind.”

Under direction from ACT Health, ACT Policing has also been conducting spot checks of people self-isolating at home.

“To date, our checks have not identified any issues and I would like to thank those Canberrans for doing the right thing,” Chief Police Officer Johnson said.

“Our frontline officers are doing all they can to support those in the frontline at our hospitals and health centres.”


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32 Responses to ACT social distancing rules extended for another 90 days
Acton Acton 8:12 am 04 Apr 20

Is this a total over reaction to another flu? Every year people die from the flu, some years are worse and very occasionally conditions create a 1918-19 event. But we do not destroy our economy, way of life and basic humanity to stop the flu. This has become a contagion of mass hysteria, far out of proportion. Do we want these measures implemented for next year’s flu and all flus in future?

Emily Lander-Clarke Emily Lander-Clarke 1:54 pm 03 Apr 20

90 days at the very least, I would imagine it will probably roll on for far far longer than this...

Linda Gregory Linda Gregory 9:53 am 03 Apr 20

who came up with this 6months theory???how do we kn how long if we only found out abt it not so long ago,???

Melissa Wareing Melissa Wareing 4:20 am 03 Apr 20

Adrian Wareing... 3 months 😞

Teresa Baxter Teresa Baxter 2:16 am 03 Apr 20

Tia Baxter guess you’ll be having a 22nd. Might be a new trend.

Boyo Birch Boyo Birch 11:35 pm 02 Apr 20

If we all keep our distances and don’t get caught with the virus, then how are our bodies going to fight the virus when it doesn’t go away completely.

    Jess Hanily Jess Hanily 11:38 pm 02 Apr 20

    Boyo Birch most people will get some strain of it eventually, but the healthcare system won’t cope if we all get it at once - so these measures are aiming to slow down the spread and better enable our hospitals to cope.

    Boyo Birch Boyo Birch 11:40 pm 02 Apr 20

    Jess Hanily totally agree and I think it’s going well. I don’t think an antibiotic will cure it totally. 90 days is a long time. Disagree with people saying 6 months

    Jess Hanily Jess Hanily 11:42 pm 02 Apr 20

    Boyo Birch a vaccine likely won’t be available this year anyway, since most people will recover with no issues (or even know they have the virus) I think we will be fine(ish). Everyone just needs to make sure we stay inside, protect the vulnerable and slow the spread!

    Boyo Birch Boyo Birch 11:56 pm 02 Apr 20

    Jess Hanily so true. You hit the spot.

    Ruth Brown Ruth Brown 11:16 am 03 Apr 20

    Boyo Birch No antibiotic will cure COVID-19. Antibiotics only kill bacteria, they have no effect on viruses. That's why doctors don't want to give people antibiotics for a common cold or the flu - they just don't work.

Racquel Helmers Racquel Helmers 6:02 pm 02 Apr 20

Definitely going to have FaceTime birthday parties then Grace Larkin 🥳

Fiona Atkins Fiona Atkins 6:01 pm 02 Apr 20

To those pregnant women in the ACT...can I say you may only be able to attend your ultrasound appointments with 1 support person, and most likely, on your own.

Get a USB and take it with you-Sonographers can download all the images and possibly little video clips from your scans.

Christopher Cuba Rabanal Christopher Cuba Rabanal 5:16 pm 02 Apr 20

Protect childcare workers give them the equipment they need.

(Please pass this on let’s make this happen)

Melissa Woods Melissa Woods 4:27 pm 02 Apr 20

Does this mean kids don’t go back to school at the end of April?

    Mel Hendrie Mel Hendrie 4:32 pm 02 Apr 20

    Melissa Woods I believe most schools are working towards distance education for Term 2 for this reason.

Phil Hopkins Phil Hopkins 3:40 pm 02 Apr 20

Another 90 days and this could be gone

SP Brogues SP Brogues 3:35 pm 02 Apr 20

What does it matter how many days as long as it saves lives.

Carol McHarry Carol McHarry 3:34 pm 02 Apr 20

As I read it it will be reviewed if things ease

Michael Blythe Michael Blythe 3:34 pm 02 Apr 20

90 days with the option of a gradual scale-back if conditions allow. That’s just my interpretation.

Denis Svob Denis Svob 3:32 pm 02 Apr 20

90 days is unrealistically optimistic when the vaccine is 12-18 months away. This is sticking around for 6 months at the very least. 😑

    Anna Kay Anna Kay 3:42 pm 02 Apr 20

    Denis Svob true but they don't want to scare people at the same time

    Denis Svob Denis Svob 3:44 pm 02 Apr 20

    Anna Kay I find honesty to be the best policy. Admittedly politics doesn’t quite work that way, and yes we have gone through a lot this year.

    Beck Bianco Beck Bianco 3:57 pm 02 Apr 20

    Denis Svob You know that the influenza outbreak of 1918 ended without a vaccinated right? Same as the Black Plague. Half the issue is probably that society has been too reliant on intervention to save them instead of their immune system and I am very much a pro vaccination but coupled with building a healthy immune.

    If everyone stays inside as much as possible over the next 90 days and uses good hygiene and social distancing then the numbers will drop and less people will have it to spread it. It doesn’t mean everything’s Will be back to normal. There country boarders will likely not be reopened for much longer. If it’s not under control Australia wide there will still be rules about isolating when travelling interstate. They will still be measure, they just won’t be as extreme.

    Denis Svob Denis Svob 4:06 pm 02 Apr 20

    Those outbreaks only ended without a vaccine because they could not develop one, and as a result 20-50 million died after 2 years (1918-1920) and Black Plague 20+ million and lasted several years. Relying on your immunity is a Darwinian method that only ensures the strongest will survive and anyone with a compromised immune system is sentenced to death. Social distancing will help but we are not getting anywhere without a vaccine, that is our only hope of ever returning to any kind of normalcy.

    Dane Roberts Dane Roberts 8:30 pm 02 Apr 20

    I heard it being explained on the radio, the 90 days is the limit the legislation will allow before the legislative assembly would need to meet to issue a new 90 days. Seems reasonable to me, there are a lot of civil liberties being compromised atm in order to contain spread of the virus, I like the idea that such a measure can only be for a max of 3 months before our elected reps must consider the situation and enact another 3 months if needed. Much better than passing a law that would give a govt some sort of unlimited right to ban people from freedom of movement and gathering in numbers etc

    Deirdre Mione Wilson Deirdre Mione Wilson 12:19 pm 03 Apr 20

    It went from January 1918 to December 1920. So two years and then it just disappeared. Most deaths were in the young, up to 40years of age. It was spread by the military returning from the war so that is why the age is lower.

Casey Bredenhann Casey Bredenhann 3:26 pm 02 Apr 20

Naomi Schirmer Tahnee Martin Rhiannon McClelland well my 21st is gonna be spent in bed

Hannah Zurcher Hannah Zurcher 3:17 pm 02 Apr 20

Graham Philipse Mark Nahon now we know how long the Venturers need to plan for, at least...

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