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NSW Police chief urges residents to think hard about risking $11,000 fines

9News.com.au logo 9News.com.au 31/03/2020

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller says officers will "show discretion" after tough new lockdown laws came into force this week.

Any resident who leaves their home "without a reasonable excuse" faces six months in jail and an $11,000 fine.

Comm. Fuller told Today no fines have been issued for breaking the restrictions to date, but officers will issue on-the-spot tickets for up to $11,000 if people defy warnings.

Pictures: Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Australia

"You can leave the house if you need to work. If you need to go to the doctors or the chemist for any health outcome you can leave. If you need to go get food you can leave. If you need fuel for the car, you can leave. If there is something to do with childminding, you can leave. There is a lot of things you can leave for," he said.

But he warned police would not tolerate unnecessary gatherings in public including people sitting down to drink take-away coffees, nor sunbaking in parks.

Footage emerged yesterday of a couple with a baby sitting on a beachside bench in Sydney's east who was asked to move on by police. In a separate incident, a man sunbaking in a city park was warned by officers.

"The reality is, if you go out to exercise, go do the exercise then go home. If you go past a coffee shop you want to get a takeaway coffee, get the coffee and go. Don't sit down and drink it," Comm. Fuller told Today. "We need to reshape in our minds."

Comm. Fuller reminded people to check the valid reasons for leaving their home.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller speaks to the media during a press conference outside the RFS Headquarters in Sydney, Wednesday, April 1, 2020 © AAP Image/Joel Carrett NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller speaks to the media during a press conference outside the RFS Headquarters in Sydney, Wednesday, April 1, 2020 "Sun baking in the park is not one of them. Going down in big groups to the beach is not one of them," he said.

"I'm not suggesting we won't write a ticket for $1000 for someone or $5000 for a business, but we are showing high levels of discretion at the moment while the new laws are better understood by the community."

Comm. Fuller described some of the crimes in NSW related to the virus outbreak as "beyond belief".

"Whether that's a theft of toilet paper or a poor kid stacking a shelf in a supermarket being assaulted right up to our law enforcement officers and nurses being spat on by people which you know it's just beyond belief, to be honest with you," he said.

Around 17,000 police are on the ground ready to hand out on the post fines, he said.


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