Police Powers to Enforce COVID-19 Social Distancing Rules

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.

Criminal Charges:

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

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