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This Is What People Have Been Fined for in Australia Under the New State-Specific COVID-19 Rules

An L-plater taking a driving lesson and a man eating a kebab on a bench are two people who've been fined for flouting the social distancing restrictions.
By Samantha Teague
April 07, 2020
By Samantha Teague
April 07, 2020

In the past few weeks, a bunch of restrictions have come into place in a bid to contain COVID-19 in Australia. Bans of non-essential events of 500 people or larger became events of 100 people, restaurants, cafes and bars across the country have shut and all international and interstate travel has been indefinitely banned. Most recently, new restrictions on social distancing and two-person limits on public gatherings were introduced on Monday, March 30.

While restrictions differ state-to-state, federal and state governments have said that Australians should only be leaving their homes for four key reasons: shopping for food and other essential supplies; for medical care or compassionate reasons; to exercise, in-line with the new two-person limit; and for work or education if you cannot work or learn remotely.

Those who don't comply with these new social distancing and public gathering rules risk hefty penalties, too, with on-the-spot fines of $1652 in Victoria, $1000 in NSW (with maximum penalties of $11,000 and six months in jail) and $1334.50 in Queensland for individuals. And a heap of people across Australia have already been slapped with fines since these rules were introduced.

In Queensland on the weekend, Saturday, April 5, police fined 58 people at a 150-car rally at a warehouse in Rochedale and five men were arrested for travelling to Palm Island, which is a designated remote community that can not be visited for non-essential reasons. Queensland Police also said they were disappointed with the number of people loitering at lookout points in parks and visiting large shopping centres for non-essential needs and would be increasing their presence at these locations. "If you are sitting at a lookout, having coffee in a park, loitering in a shopping centre outside the parameters of the directions, you may be fined," Acting Chief Superintendent Mel Adams of Logan Police District said. "Public safety comes first and we urged people to stay at home."

Destination NSW

Victoria Police issued 108 fines on Sunday, April 6, alone. While exact details of the fines have not been released, one 17-year-old L-plater was pulled over and fined $1652 while on a driving lesson with their mother, as driving lessons are deemed non-essential in Victoria. In NSW, however, driving lessons are allowed — with either an instructor or a family member — as they fall under 'education'. Last week, a Fitzroy restaurant was also fined almost $10,000 for operating, with the ABC reporting there were six staff working and customers eating and drinking on the premises.

Eighteen on-the-spot fines were handed out in NSW on Sunday: one man was charged for ignoring "beach closed" signs at Bondi Beach — he also ignored directions from the police to move on and coughed at an officer; and a women was fined for accompanying a food delivery driver. While the driver was working, the women "was only there because she said she was bored being at home", according the NSW Police.

Since the laws were introduced, other Sydneysiders who have been charged include two people in a vehicle who did not have "a reasonable excuse not to be at home", a man who had left his home in order to visit his drug dealer and a man who had ignored two warnings and was found a third time on a Market Street bench eating a kebab.

Restrictions are changing every day, you can read more about the state-specific public gathering and social distancing laws in NSW, Victoria and Queensland

To find out more about the status of COVID-19 in Australia and how to protect yourself, head to the Australian Government Department of Health's website.

Published on April 07, 2020 by Samantha Teague
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