NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller said the state’s lockdown laws banning gatherings of more than two people and preventing people from leaving their homes without a “reasonable excuse” would last 90 days.
“I certainly won’t be seeking an extension, people will have gotten the message by then, hopefully,” he said.
The laws, designed to help slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, will last until 29 June.
NSW Police have been accused of overzealous enforcement of the regulations. But police say they have been spat on and abused while dealing with residents at parks and beaches.
Responding to these allegations, Mr Fuller put a deadline on the laws and said he will “personally” review all fines issued.
“If I think it’s unreasonable, it will be withdrawn immediately and we’ll make personal contact with the individual,” he said.
“I get it, and we want people to be able to stay fit and physically and psychologically healthy.
“But, of course, if I said it’s okay to sit on a park bench, then everyone is going to go to the park. And we’re going to end up back where we started.”
NSW has the nation’s toughest coronavirus restrictions. Police can hand out on-the-spot fines of $1000 to individuals who breach those rules. Courts can deliver maximum penalties of $11,000 and sentence offenders to six months in jail.
The only legal reasons for people to leave home are to work or study, or to go shopping for food or other essential items. Access medical care is also allowed, as is exercise alone or with only one other person. The law also allows for partners who do not live together to travel to see each other.
The harsh laws have already flattened the COVID-19 curve in Australia’s worst-affected state.
“The acceleration of cases in NSW isn’t growing, which is a good thing,” said NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who added that stricter rules won’t be put in place if everyone does the right thing.
“We know that we’re having some level of success in reducing the spread. But we have to maintain our vigilance. We are at a very critical phase.”
What do you think of your state’s lockdown laws? Are you prepared for a level four lockdown?
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