The NSW Police Force has been given new powers allowing it to fine businesses and members of the public for breaking social-distancing requirements. The fines will apply to anyone who fails to quarantine for 14 days after returning from overseas, or any individual or corporation attending or holding gatherings of more than 100 people inside or 500 people outside.

Individuals and businesses can also be fined for participating in fitness groups of more than 10 people, weddings of more than five people and funerals of more than 10 people. People attending large parties or gatherings – even in private homes – can be fined $1000 each.

“This health crisis is like nothing we have ever experienced, with more than 1000 cases now confirmed in NSW, and the numbers continuing to grow,” NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller said in a statement. “Disturbingly, our officers have already responded to dozens of reports of breaches of ministerial directions from members of the community.”

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said no more than one person should be occupying any two-by-two-metre area, and that public places such as beach and retail outlets “are no exception”.

Police will begin to issue fines from midnight tonight.