Police now have the power to issue an on the spot fine for not complying with a ministerial direction or a public health order as harsher restrictions come into effect to slow the spread of Coronavirus.
Murray River Police District Commander Superintendent Paul Smith said this means if someone is ordered to self-isolate and they do not comply, or if people do not adhere to social distancing rules, police will respond and issue them with a fine.
"This health crisis is nothing like anything we’ve ever experienced, and I can understand members of our communities are anxious. But I want to assure you police are committed to using all the powers available to us to enforce all COVID-19 related public health orders and play our part in stopping the spread of this virus," he said.
"I am encouraged to see most members of the community are taking this situation seriously and heeding the social distancing advice of the government. This includes businesses and individuals who have made enormous sacrifices in the process.
"Police have the powers we need to enforce the Public Health Act, and we have additional powers thanks to new legislation put in place by the NSW Government. Police can now issue a Penalty Infringement Notice, or an on the spot fine, for the offence of not complying with a ministerial direction or a public health order. This on the spot fine is $1000 for individuals and $5000 for businesses.
"I want to assure the community we will be using this power if required. This new power is in addition to the options that were already available to us – a person may also be issued with a Court Attendance Notice with a penalty of up to $11,000 or 6 months imprisonment if convicted."
Ministerial directions including self-isolation of diagnosed persons, self-isolation of incoming travellers, mass gatherings and social distancing rules and closure of social gathering places such as pubs, clubs and restaurants will be enforced.
"Over the weekend, we moved to ensure people could report non-compliance with public health orders through Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. This has been well received, and I want to encourage people to use this service responsibly and help us reduce the spread of COVID-19," superintendent Smith said.
"I also want to reassure you the NSW Police Force is well prepared to protect our citizens and continue our law enforcement capability throughout this pandemic. Police last week launched Operation Coronavirus state-wide to guide our response. We have highly specialised officers providing practical and logistical support to our 17,000 strong workforce as they respond to this crisis.
"Murray River Police District officers are conducting proactive patrols across our communities. These patrols also form part of our ongoing work with retailers, to ensure calm and fairness at the checkouts. You as a community can assist in keeping our officers on the road by using existing reporting options for non-emergency calls for assistance. "
Superintended Smith confirmed the NSW-Victorian border is not closed at this time.
"We continue to receive many calls at our stations across the Murray River Police District in relation to the NSW-Victorian border. At this time the border is not closed, and as we are all aware the border means little for us in our border communities who operate as one," he said.
"What I must stress is for the entire community to re-consider any non-essential travel in and between our communities. We will continue to work with our Victoria Police colleagues on this and the COVID-19 response.
"Please stay safe and continue to follow the official government advice so your police do not need to intervene. This is a very contagious virus and we all need to do everything we can to play our part to stop its spread."
You can report instances of people not complying to directives online at www.nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.
For more information or assistance, phone the Police Assistance Line on 131444 or visit the community portal https://portal.police.nsw.gov.au/.