In response to the increasing COVID-19 infections in New South Wales, the NSW Police initiative 'Operation Stay at Home' was announced in mid-August 2021. The operation came with increased police powers to issue on-the-spot fines ranging from $80 for failure to comply with a direction to wear a mask to $5,000 for failure to comply with self-isolation obligations.

Since this announcement, NSW Police issued more than 22,000 fines for breaching COVID-19 restrictions. Revenue NSW statistics show the total COVID-19 fines amount to over $28 million.

What to do if you are fined

If you have been issued with a penalty notice you have the following options:

  1. accept liability and pay the fine; or
  2. elect for the matter to be determined by the Local Court, plead guilty with an explanation and seek leniency from the Magistrate determining the matter; or
  3. elect for the matter to be determined by the Local Court, plead not guilty and the adjourn the matter to be determined by a defended hearing. At the hearing NSW Police will need to produce evidence to establish the offence against you.

There are strong pros and cons to the above options, and we highly recommend seeking advice from one of our experienced lawyers to discuss which option is best for you.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.