Special state powers triggered to combat COVID-19

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NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has made an order under Section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010 to force the immediate cancellation of public events with more than 500 people.

Mr Hazzard said under the planned changes, individuals who fail to comply could face up to six months in prison or a fine of up to $11,000 or both, plus additional penalties for each day the offence continues. Corporations face even harsher fines.

“I urge the community to do the right thing and obey the decisions and advice of the national and NSW chief medical officers,” Mr Hazzard  said.

“But we will be tough if needed, to protect the wider community.”

Mr Hazzard said the order ensures the new requirements of the National Cabinet are operational immediately after midnight 15 March, 2020.

The NSW Government COVID-19 ‘War Cabinet’ met by teleconference yesterday to endorse the chief health officer’s advice on keeping schools open.

NSW public schools will remain open but with enhanced safeguards including students not being required to attend assemblies and other measures to ensure a focus on increased physical separation.

  • What is COVID-19 and what precautions should you be taking? Click here for answers to frequently asked questions

All chief health officers of Australia believe that school closures should not be recommended at this stage in the pandemic. This decision will remain under constant review to ensure the best outcome for children and young people.

As agreed by the National Cabinet, all entrants to Australia, including returning residents and citizens, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. NSW will continue to support the Commonwealth Government in implementing this requirement.

If any individual fails to do so the NSW chief health officer may issue an order to forcibly require compliance. Any enforcement required would be in consultation with NSW Police.

“The spread here has been slowed significantly by the government’s actions on the advice of health experts, and we will use our legislative public health powers to best safeguard the community,” Mr Hazzard said.