Will you be fined for leaving home?

Most Australians have finally got the message, put their own needs aside and are now staying home to do their bit to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Sure, there are a few stragglers, some who don’t believe it’s as bad as everyone else in the world is saying and some who say they have no choice but to continue on with their everyday lives.

Then there are those who actually don’t have choice – our healthcare workers, health professionals, local and state government services, and other essential services workers – who are doing their bit to stay at work, so the rest of us have some semblance of normal life and access to what we need during this pandemic.

Most people are keeping 1.5 metres away from those they don’t live with and are avoiding public gatherings. Most of those who have returned from overseas are correctly self-isolating.

Most of us are doing our bit to flatten the curve, and it seems to be having the desired effect. On Sunday, the Prime Minister said that our 25 per cent infection rate had slowed to 13-15 per cent. Still a long way to go, but promising nonetheless. And we have those who have stayed at home to thank for the decline, said the PM.

The rest of the nation who are not taking these guidelines seriously are putting the rest of us at risk. And they will be penalised, say state and federal governments. Here’s how (correct at time of writing on 30/03/2020).

New South Wales
Having openly flouted previous requests to stay at home, Sydneysiders will now be fined for disregarding self-isolation requests. Individuals and businesses face jail time and big fines if they fail to comply with the bans.

Individuals will be fined $1000 and corporations $5000 for not following self-isolation rules. Breaching any public health order could also see you penalised up to $11,000 or served with a six-month jail sentence.

Sydney police will flood the community on the lookout for lockdown breaches, says NSW Police Minister David Elliott.

Victoria has also introduced hefty fines for businesses and individuals who break operating or isolation orders. Individuals will cop a $1600 fine, and businesses $10,000 for breaching any of the state’s new restrictions. Breaching any public health order carries a penalty of up to $20,000.

“I hope we don’t have to fine anybody,” said Premier Daniel Andrews. “I hope we don’t have to go to these levels of enforcement. But giving people these sorts of powers is very important.

“Follow the rules, do the right thing, keep your distance, stay at home. That is the key message. And if you’re flouting those rules, you’ll be punished.”

Anyone found defying Queensland government health regulations will be fined up to $1334.50 for individuals and $6672.50 for businesses.

Queensland Police are already prowling party precincts to ensure the locals stick to the new rules. Emergency officers have also been given the power to direct businesses, such as supermarkets, to open and close. Anyone not complying with quarantine directions, could cop huge penalties of up to $13,345 for individuals and $66,672.50.

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein announced fines of up to $16,800 for people gathering in groups more than 10, both in public and private. The maximum penalty for defying a public health order is $8400. Exceptions apply to families comprising more than 10 people.

“Stay home unless you are going to work or school or to get supplies, stay at home,” she said.

“No camping, no parties, no picnics. Don’t have barbecues with your mates or a booze-up in the park.

“It’s not on. The message is clear. Unless you need to go to work, unless you need to go out to get supplies, stay at home and save lives.”

South Australia
South Australians who gather in groups more than 10 face on-the-spot fines of up to $1000 each. Businesses who don’t abide by the rule face fines of up to $5000 and any breach of a public health order can result in fines of up to $20,000 for individuals and up to $75,000 for businesses. Those who fail to self-isolate could be hit with a $1000 fine.

Premier Steven Marshall said the restriction were “not optional”.

“We are only as strong as our weakest link,” he said.

“Everyone needs to understand that from today failure to follow the directions to the letter of the law will leave individuals and businesses liable for significant on-the-spot fines.”

Western Australia
Western Australia has closed its borders to the rest of the country. Anyone entering Western Australia, whether they arrive by road, rail, air or sea, must self-isolate for 14 days.

The Western Australian government is in the process of figuring out on-the-spot fines, but no decision of they will implement them has been made public.

The government is also considering subdividing the state to restrict further travel.

Northern Territory
The Northern Territory has also closed its borders to the rest of the country and any non-essential visitors will be forced into quarantine for 14 days on entry. The penalty for noncompliance is a fine of up to $62,800 and six months in jail.

Police are conducting random checks to ensure self-isolation rules are enforced.

Australian Capital Territory
Fines of up to $8000 for individuals and $40,500 for businesses will be issued to those who do not adhere to directions on self-isolation and business closure. Utility companies face fines up to $1,620,000. Access Canberra will be working with businesses to make sure they are closed.

Do you think the lockdown penalties are fair or should they be harsher?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.


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