People and businesses in NSW could face jail time and fines of up to $11,000 if they fail to comply with mass gathering bans to combat the spread of coronavirus.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Monday said he has made an order under the Public Health Act 2010 to force the immediate cancellation of public events with more than 500 people.
Individuals who fail to comply could face up to six months in prison, a fine of up to $11,000, or both, he said. Additional penalties could be imposed for each day the offence continues.
Under the changes, which came into effect on Sunday, corporations face even harsher fines,” Mr Hazzard said.
It follows the federal government’s announcement on Friday that non-essential mass gatherings of 500 people or more should not be held from Monday.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian urged people to be careful and not take chances with their own health and the health of others.
“Don’t just think of yourself or your own family, but you could be unintentionally infecting and causing the death of so many other people,” she told reporters in southern NSW on Monday.
“We do know older people in particular are very vulnerable to this disease.
“This is life and death.”
She warned that people need to brace themselves as the number of cases in NSW continues to rise.
“I want everyone to brace themselves. It’s not a time to be complacent or reckless or think that it’s not going to affect you,” she said.
Australia’s COVID-19 death toll rose to five on Sunday after a 90-year-old woman who was a resident of Sydney’s Dorothy Henderson Lodge nursing home died after becoming infected with the virus.
She is the third resident of the nursing home who has died after becoming infected with COVID-19.
A 77-year-old woman who flew from Brisbane to Sydney on Friday also died after developing coronavirus symptoms on the plane and died the same day.
The number of coronavirus cases in NSW jumped by 22 over the 24 hours to 11 a.m. on Sunday, taking the total number of infected people in the state to 134.
The University of Sydney and the University of NSW confirmed separately on Sunday that a student from each of their institutions had been diagnosed with the virus.
NSW schools from Monday will adopt social distancing measures, including cancelling assemblies, excursions, and travel, as well as some events and conferences in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.
All new jury trials in the NSW Supreme and District court will also be suspended indefinitely from Monday, but jury trials which have already begun will continue.
Several large events across the state including the Sydney Royal Easter Show have been cancelled also to try and slow the virus’s spread.
RSL NSW representatives are meeting on Monday to make a decision on upcoming Anzac Day marches and parades.