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NSW Police officers
Photograph: Creative Commons

NSW residents ordered to stay home unless they have a 'valid reason'

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Unless you have a specific reason deemed essential – grocery shopping, medical appointments, work or exercise – you must not leave your home until further notice. This was the unequivocal message from NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian this morning at a media conference regarding the state implementation of the government’s latest social restrictions.

While prime minister Scott Morrison has stopped short of actually blaming a specific demographic for the need for stricter distancing rules, Berejiklian pulled no such punches, directly identifying people in their 20s and 30s as the most likely to ignore government advice about public gatherings and physical distancing. 

“You are not immune from this, and even if you are, you risk spreading [Covid-19] to people you love or spreading it to people in the community who are vulnerable and will lose their life because of this,” she said. “The worst offenders in terms of not sticking to the rules are people in those age groups. Apologies to those of you doing the right thing, but I need to get out the message: you cannot socialise as you used to. That is not allowed anymore.”

To ensure greater compliance with the latest measures brought in to curb the spread of Covid-19, which has infected more than twice the numbers in NSW than in anywhere else in Australia, Berejiklian announced new enforcement powers for police, who will be able to issue $1,000 on-the-spot fines to those found outside of their homes without a specific reason. The issuing of these fines will be at the discretion of police officers, but affording such powers to law enforcement was the only way for some Sydneysiders to “get the message”, Berejiklian added.

The NSW premier also warned of the possibility of even stricter rules in the future, saying: “We don’t want it to come to a situation where everyone leaving their home has to prove the reason.” The list of social restrictions introduced thus far is beginning to make a slight dent in the spread of the pandemic coronavirus in Australia, with early signs indicating that the country is beginning to ‘flatten the curve’ in the number of new Covid-19 cases. However, it will be several weeks before the impact of the most recent rules can be judged. At several of the past week’s press conferences, Morrison has indicated that social distancing rules could be in effect in Australia for up to six months.

Stay up to date with the latest Covid-19 health and travel advice from around the world.

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