The federal government’s new restriction on gatherings has come into effect, with states and territories taking different approaches to enforce it.
A limit of two people can gather together inside or outside — excluding housemates — under the new restrictions.
New South Wales
The state passed a health order on Monday night, which states that under the Public Health Act 2010, individuals who fail to comply face a maximum penalty of imprisonment for six months or a fine of up to $11,000 (or both), with harsher penalties if the the offence continues.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said police would be enforcing the restrictions.
“We don’t want to have to enforce these laws. We want to work with you. We will just ask the public to read up on the new laws and be sure the police will be out there,” he said.
NSW Health minister Brad Hazzard has said people should only be leaving their houses to obtain food or other goods and services, travelling for the purposes of work or education if the person cannot do it at home, exercise, and medical or caring reasons.
Victoria has also passed stay at home directions.
Premier Daniel Andrews said those who don’t comply with the state’s stage three restrictions would face an on-the-spot fine of of $1,652 for individuals and $9,913 for businesses.
“Larger fines can also be issued through the courts,” he said.
He said Victoria police would “not hesitate to take action” against those who break the new restrictions.
“That is how serious this is,” he said.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said police would not be issuing fines yet, but he would implement stronger enforcement measures in the near future if necessary.
Canberrans can only leave their homes to shop for food and necessary supplies, medical or health care needs (including compassionate requirements), exercise in compliance with the public gathering requirements, work and study if remote options are not available.
In Queensland, residents are only allowed to leave their home for food or other essential goods or services, to receive medical care, to exercise, to go to work at an essential business, to visit a terminally ill relative or attend a funeral, to care for immediate family members, to attend court or to go to childcare, school or university.
The state passed a home confinement direction on Sunday night. Those who don’t comply face on-the-spot fines of $1,330 for individuals and $6,670 for corporations. Individuals caught ignoring quarantine directions could be fined up to $13,345, or $66,670 for corporations.
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said police have been given “extraordinary powers for the safety of the community” in response to the pandemic.
Tasmanians have been ordered to stay home for the next four weeks, unless leaving for essential items, going to school or work, to exercise, or to check on neighbours, elderly relatives, or members of the same household.
Those who don’t comply will be fined $16,800 and face up to six months in prison, Premier Peter Gutwein said.
“You will need to remain in your primary place of residence and you will be committing an offence if you don’t … our police will ensure that they enforce this, you will be able to be arrested, you will be charged and summonsed,” he said.
“We’re putting in place these measures as it is our aim to avoid a devastating full shutdown as we have seen rolled out in other countries.”
Premier Mark McGowan has said WA Police would use drones to help implement the new restrictions on gatherings.
“Here in Western Australia we will be enforcing these new requirements by regulation, now obviously enforcement is not an easy task,” he said.
“If you choose to ignore the law there is every chance you will get caught.”
Those who breach the measures face on-the-spot fines of $1000 for individuals and $5000 fines for businesses.
The state has also introduced a hard border closure.
The NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner has encouraged locals to follow the new restrictions, but said NT Police would not be enforcing it at this stage.
“I want Territorians to follow this advice because we’re doing it to help save lives,” he said.
“If it’s something that needs to be enforced down the track, we’ll do that.”
He said police are currently enforcing a limit on groups of 10.
“If the police need to go around enforcing a lower limit, they will, but I expect Territorians will do the right thing and save our police the time and hassle,” he said.
Premier Steven Marshall said he’s “pretty pleased” with how seriously South Australians have been taking COVID-19, but asserted that he doesn’t want to see “any relaxation whatsoever”.
The state currently issues on-the-spot fines of $1000 for gatherings of more than 10. Businesses that don’t comply face a $5,000 fine.
Marshall said the fines would be considered for the new two-people limit. He has encouraged people to follow the advice of the national cabinet.