Police have powers under the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) to enforce the Social Distancing Rules.
You can get a copy of the rules on the NSW legislation website.
In summary, what the police can do is as follows:
Issue you with a Penalty Notice:
Police can issue on the spot fines to individuals and corporations if you fail to comply with the measures enacted under the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW).
For an individual – the on the spot fine is $1000.
For a corporation – the on the spot fine is $5000.
Police also have the power to charge you with a criminal offence and issue you a Court Attendance Notice. The penalties are much more severe if you are dealt with by a court – the maximum fine is $11000, and the maximum gaol sentence is six months. If the offence continues, you face a further possible penalty of $5500.
They can arrest you and take you home
Section 71A of the Public Health Act allows a police officer to arrest a person if they suspect on reasonable ground that the person is contravening a public health order relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Upon arrest, they return you to your home, or, the place where you have been ordered to reside (for example, if you are in forced isolation in a hotel room and you abscond, they will take you back there).
Direct you to provide your name and residential address:
Section 112 of the Public Health Act enables a police officer to require a person to state their full name and residential address where they suspect that person has contravened any provision of the regulations.
If you have received a penalty notice, or you have been charged with an offence, our office is open to assist you during this time.
Author: Angela Cooney