In a press conference this morning, Thursday April 2, New South Wales police commissioner Mick Fuller said the state's tough social distancing laws will be in place for 90 days, or to the end of June.
The laws, which have been designed to enforce the federal government's coronavirus measures, ban gatherings of more than two people and prevent people from leaving the house without a “reasonable excuse”. Breaching these laws can lead to fines of up to $11,000.
While Fuller won't seek to extend the NSW police force's powers beyond the initial 90 days, the federal government's measures may stay in place beyond that time. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously stated that restrictions will likely remain for at least six months. The state currently has 2298 reported cases of coronavirus, with 116 new infections in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
While other states have similar laws, NSW's are the most restrictive, with citizens having less flexibility than others to leave the home. Tasmania, for example, is fining individuals up to $16,800 for breaking lockdown laws, but has a broader range of acceptable reasons for leaving the home. In NSW, people are only able to go outside to grocery shop, exercise, and to go to work or education that can't be done from home.
Fuller says he will be personally reviewing fines, and if they were found to be unreasonable, they would be immediately withdrawn. Three fines have been issued in the past 24 hours.
"We want people to be able to stay fit and physically and psychologically healthy," he said at a press conference this morning.
"But, of course, if I said it's ok to sit on a park bench, then everyone is going to go to the park. And we're going to end up back where we started."