NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has made an Order under Section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010 to force the immediate cancellation of major events with more than 500 people. Mr Hazzard said under the planned changes, individuals who fail to comply could face up to six months in prison or a fine of up to $11,000 or both, plus additional penalities for each day the offence continues. Corporations face even harsher fines. “I urge the community to do the right thing and obey the decisions and advice of the National and NSW Chief Medical Officers,” Mr Hazzard said. “But we will be tough if needed, to protect the wider community.” Mr Hazzard said the Order ensures the new requirements of the National Cabinet are operational immediately after midnight 15 March, 2020. The NSW Government COVID-19 “War Cabinet” also met by teleconference today to ensorse the Chief Health Officer’s advice on keeping schools open. NSW public schools will remain open but with enhanced safeguards including students not being required to attend assemblies and other measures to ensure a focus on increased physical separation. The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee advises that school closures are not recommended at this stage in the epidemic. This decision will remain under constant review to ensure the best outcomes for children and young people. As agreed by the National Cabinet all entrants to Australia, including returning travellers, will be required to self isolate for 14 days. NSW will continue to support the Commonwealth Government in implementing this requirement. If any individual fails to do so the NSW Chief Health Officer may issue an order to forcibly require compliance. Any enforcement required would be in consultation with NSW Police. “The spread here has been slowed significantly by the Government’s actions on the advice of health experts, and we will use our legislative public health powers to best safeguard the community,” Mr Hazzard said. For more information, refer to Public Health (COVID-19 Public Events) Order 2020.
State governments and police will take responsibility for enforcing penalties over the new quarantine rules, with PedestrianTV reporting that, under existing rules, fines for breaching public health orders carry wildly different penalties according to state. — Victoria: $6,400 — Tasmania: $8,400 — Queensland: $13,345 — South Australia: $25,000 — NSW: $11,000 and six months’ jail — WA: $50,000 and 12 months’ jail