Staggering amount in fines yet to be paid by Covid lockdown flouters

·3-min read

A staggering amount of money is still owed to NSW Police after authorities handed out millions of dollars worth of fines to people flouting Covid rules in a recent blitz.

The Covid-19 lockdown across NSW has meant police have been in full force to ensure compliance, particularly in the hard-hit LGAs of concern.

Operation Stay at Home, launched by NSW Police on August 16, saw police handing out $5000 fines and officers being given the power to close businesses if they were in breach of the public health orders.

Since August 16, nearly 22,000 fines have been handed out by police in just a three-and-a-half week period, The Sun-Herald revealed on Sunday.

A group of masked officers stand outside a police station in Sydney.
NSW Police were given additional powers amid Sydney's Delta outbreak. Source: AAP

Around $3.5 million has been paid in fines in NSW since the start of the pandemic last year and almost $25 million in fines is outstanding and $3.4 million is overdue.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told The Sun-Herald he believed the police effort has helped contain the outbreak.

“The compliance operation has been a major driver in setting us on a path out of lockdown and it’s clear that without driving the restriction of movement, thousands more people would have become positive cases,” he said.

Information obtained by The Sun-Herald shows how drastically NSW Police stepped up their efforts in the wake of the state's most recent outbreak.

From the start of the pandemic until June 24 this year, just over 3000 penalty notices were issued. From June 25 until September 6, there have been 28,726 penalty notices issued.

Sydney has been in lockdown since June 26 and while daily cases have surpassed the 1,000 mark, health authorities believe the peak of the outbreak will be reached in the coming week.

Twelve LGAs of concern have been subject to more extreme lockdown measures, including a curfew and a limited time for outdoor exercise.

Meanwhile parts of Sydney have less restrictions and parts of NSW are now out of lockdown.

Thousands of fines have been handed out since the start of the pandemic, most of which have been since June this year. Source: AAP
Thousands of fines have been handed out since the start of the pandemic, most of which have been since June this year. Source: AAP

Under the Public Health Act in NSW, an individual can incur a penalty up to $11,000 or be imprisoned for six month, or both.

NSW Police have the power to issue on-the-spot fines to individuals, starting from $40 for failing to wear or carry a mask for those aged 15 or younger.

Three offences carry a penalty of $5000 — failing to comply with the obligation to answer questions of a contact tracer, failing to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid and failing to self-isolate after being deemed a close contact.

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