If you’re living in NSW and disregarding coronavirus restrictions, there’s a good chance one of your neighbours is going to shop you to the authorities.
Police from Thursday were given the power to hand out on-the-spot fines of $1000 to individuals and $5000 to businesses that breach public health orders or ministerial directions.
It hasn’t taken long for concerned citizens to dob in their neighbours for doing the wrong thing, with NSW Police receiving about 600 calls in just two days.
“I gave a clear warning that the time for cautioning people over not adhering to self-isolation was over,” NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told reporters in Sydney on Friday.
Among those who have been fined already are staff from a Sydney massage parlour, and a 65-year-old woman from Lake Macquarie.
“What’s disappointing is this lady had a caution on Monday to self-isolate, yesterday she was found walking around the streets – $1000 fine,” Mr Fuller said.
He says before the new powers were introduced, Crime Stoppers had received 200 calls about people ignoring restrictions.
“Since then, that has gone up to 800, (with) 600 calls in two days,” Mr Fuller said.
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People in the firing line include returned travellers who contravened the requirement to self-quarantine for 14 days and those diagnosed with COVID-19 who similarly don’t follow the rules.
Fines will also apply for breaches of the prohibition on outdoor gatherings of 500 people and indoor gatherings of 100.
It follows the passing of legislation in the NSW parliament on Tuesday to help tackle the spread of coronavirus.
Please ensure you stick to the rules on social distancing and self-isolation. Lives depend on it. For more information and for the latest updates, go to 👉https://t.co/mtuYoPLEIv pic.twitter.com/5v2nUBI66D
— Gladys Berejiklian (@GladysB) March 24, 2020
Under the bill, police will be able to arrest people reasonably suspected of breaching COVID-19 public health orders and return them home or to a place of detention.
A similar situation is playing out in Victoria, where police have been receiving calls from members of the public, alerting them to individuals who have been breaching the rules.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said police were ramping up spot checks, and called on Victorians to exercise common sense.
He blasted the behaviour of a worker at the National Australia Bank who falsely claimed he had the virus.
“It’s not a crime to be a dickhead, but it’s a time for common sense,” Commissioner Ashton said.
“There’s an obligation on all of us to do the right thing by each other.”
On Monday, the state government announced that 500 police would form a coronavirus taskforce.
Statewide Operation Sentinel, as it has been named, is tasked with enforcement of self-isolation measures and restrictions introduced by the government.
Police have already begun door knocking homes and conducting spot checks on returned travellers required to self-isolate for 14 days.