Police have already visited thousands of Australians in random checks to ensure those who have self-isolated amid the coronavirus outbreak are staying at home.
Queensland police alone have conducted spot-checks on more than 1,850 individuals in self-quarantine – without having to issue any fines.
One Brisbane command has been forced to reassure residents that officers checking on compliance will always be in full uniform, after claims criminals were conducting bogus COVID-19 checks to gain access to houses.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has declared a month-long state of emergency, authorising police to detain citizens, restrict movement and prevent entry to premises.
‘It is an offence under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act to not comply with the orders that have been made,’ Mr Andrews said on Monday.
Police have visited thousands of Australians in random checks to ensure those who have self-isolated amid the coronavirus outbreak are staying at home.Victoria Police put a mask on this man as he was arrested in Melbourne’s Swanson Street last week
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has declared a month-long state of emergency, authorising police to detain citizens, restrict movement and prevent entry to premises. Pictured is the international departure terminal at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport last week
Mr Andrews warned their were severe penalties for those who do not comply with orders during the coronvirus crisis. ‘It is an offence under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act to not comply with the orders that have been made,’ he said on Monday
Australians who refuse to self-isolate after contracting coronavirus could be jailed for up to a year or fined as much as $50,000.
People who are believed to have contracted the disease have been ordered to stay at home for 14 days, as have those who have been in contact with anyone who has been in South Korea, China, Iran or Italy.
Queensland police have conducted more than 8,500 checks on citizens in self-isolation since February 5. All states have stiff fines and even jail sentences for breaches of quarantine laws
All international travellers have now also been ordered to self-isolate for a fortnight.
During isolation, individuals must stay at home or in their paid accommodation and cannot go anywhere they might have contact with other people, such as work, school, childcare, university or public gatherings.
Those who ignore the orders are putting the community at risk of catching the disease that has killed almost 5,000 people globally and infected at least 299 Australians.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said laws were in place to deal with anyone who failed to follow a direction to self-isolate under the Public Health Emergency Act.
‘That bill was passed in early February and there are penalties for not complying with the notification and that is around $13,000,’ Ms Palaszczuk said.
‘We have random police checks to make sure people are compliant with that notice.’
A Queensland Police Service spokesman said officers had visited more than 1,850 individuals in self-quarantine since February 5 without having to take any enforcement action.
‘The QPS is conducting ongoing support to Queensland Health as part of a whole of government response to the COVID-19 situation,’ the spokesman said.
All international travellers have now also been ordered to self-isolate for a fortnight. Passengers are pictured arriving at Sydney Airport on Monday
Australians who refuse to comply with public health orders to self-isolate amid the outbreak of coronavirus could be hit with massive fines and even jail time (people wearing face masks outside St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney)
‘The visitation of those people in self-quarantine is part of that support process.’
Victoria Police has not responded to requests for information on how its officers would be enforcing the legislation. The NSW Police Force referred inquiries to the Attorney-General’s department, which referred the matter to NSW Health.
A South Australian Police spokesman said he could not comment on operational matters other than to state SAPOL would respond to the crisis ‘as required’.
‘SAPOL are actively planning and preparing for any directions or assistance the SA Department of Health may require involving the COVID-19 virus,’ he said.
South Brisbane police have issued their own statement about how they will enforce self-isolation compliance.
‘Police are involved with Queensland Health in checks on those in self-quarantine,’ Acting Senior Sergeant Mick Morier wrote on the myPolice website.
‘Our main role during this period is to work with the community and ensure we deliver an excellent policing service.
‘There have been some concerns on social media platforms regarding people imitating police under the guise of these checks and using them to access people’s homes.
‘There have been no known reported offences stemming from these claims, however, it’s timely to remind everyone that police will be in full uniform and will identify themselves and be happy to answer any questions before entering a residence.’
Acting Senior Sergeant Morier also refuted social media posts suggesting police had been patrolling a Coles Supermarket at Sunnybank ensuring a limit on shopping purchases.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 299
New South Wales: 135
South Australia: 20
Western Australia: 18
Northern Territory: 1
Australian Capital Territory: 1
TOTAL CASES: 299
A photograph of police in that shopping centre showed officers on a routine patrol. Their presence had nothing to do with panic buying or COVID-19.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said police could fine or imprison anyone who failed to self-isolate and could arrest event organisers who allowed functions attended by more than 500 people to go ahead.
‘Whilst the chief medical officer can issue notices, police can enforce that and there are penalties in place for people who don’t respect what we’ve done, through the Public Health Act,’ Ms Berejiklian said on Monday.
Ms Berejiklian hoped that ‘most people will step up and do the right thing’ and self-isolate.
‘Don’t just think of yourself and your own family… you could unintentionally be infecting and causing the death of so many other people.’
Citizens could report anyone who failed to comply with isolation orders but Ms Berejiklian said she ‘hopes that it doesn’t come to that’.
‘You can let the relevant authorities know, and the police can turn up and enforce that person to stay home. So we do have that provision. We’ll be enacting that.’
Australians who have been told to self-isolate could be hit with a public health order and face massive penalties if they continue to interact with others.
Each state has varying punishments for breaches of public health orders.
In Western Australia, people who ignore a public health order could be hit with a $50,000 fine and spend up to 12 months behind bars.
MAXIMUM PENALTIES FOR BREACHING PUBLIC HEALTH ORDERS
NSW – $11,000 fine and six months jail
QLD – $13,345 fine
SA – $25,000 fine
WA – $50,000 and 12 months jail
TAS- $8,400 fine
VIC – $6,600 fine
Under the South Australian Public Health Act, people who refuse to comply with policies could be forced to pay a maximum fine of $25,000.
In New South Wales, people who breach the public health order can be fined up to $11,000 and face six months behind bars.
Queenslanders that fail to comply with health orders could see fines of up to $13,345 along with other penalties.
In Tasmania, a maximum fine for disobeying rules under the Public Health Act is $8,400.
In Victoria, people could face a fine of up to $6,600.
A NSW Department of Health spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia, failure to comply with the Public Health Act was an offence.
‘Novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is a scheduled medical condition under the Public Health Act 2010,’ the spokesperson said.
Under the South Australian Public Health Act, people who refuse to comply with policies could be forced to pay a maximum fine of $25,000 (patients pictured outside Concord Hospital)
‘This means cases of COVID-19 must be notified to the Secretary.
‘In addition, a public health order can be made in relation to a person with COVID-19 or a person who has come into contact with COVID-19.
‘A public health order can require a person to undergo treatment, notify contacts or order a person to be detained.
‘It is an offence to fail to comply with a public health order.’
A spokesperson for the Victorian Department of Health said: ‘We have been clear that some extreme measures will need to be taken to protect public health.
‘None of these decisions will be taken lightly and must be proportionate to the threat.’