hotel quarantine
(Image: AAP/Richard Wainwright)

Instead of a bedtime story, late last night NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian read the state a list of new rules and police powers to punish anyone leaving their house without a valid excuse.

NSW is not alone in its authoritarian push — Victoria and Queensland have followed suit with a list of strict measures to keep people at home.

Draconian measures

Following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement on Sunday night limiting gatherings from 10 people to two, states have acted to pass that rule into law.

NSW has the harshest fines — nearly 10 times more than any other state for breaking the same rule. It’s unclear if leaving the house in groups of three will also result in an unnecessary strip search.

Breaking these rules can result in an on-the-spot fine of a whopping $11,000 and six months prison.

In NSW, a “reasonable excuse” is defined in 16 ways:

  1. Obtaining food, household items or services for pets, the household, or vulnerable people
  2. Travelling to work if working from home isn’t an option
  3. Dropping and picking kids up from childcare
  4. Getting someone to and from school or other educational institution where learning at home can’t isn’t an option
  5. Exercising
  6. Getting medical care or health supplies for yourself or a person you’re caring for
  7. Heading to a wedding or funeral, as long as it follows the current rules (no more than 10 people at a funeral, no more than five at a wedding)
  8. Moving to a new house or office building, or inspecting a new place
  9. Providing help or care to a vulnerable person, or someone in an emergency
  10. Donating blood
  11. Undertaking legal obligations
  12. Accessing government services such as social, employment, domestic violence, mental health and victim of crime services
  13. Ferrying kids from one parent’s or sibling’s place to another
  14. For religious leaders, going to a place of worship or providing pastoral care
  15. Avoiding injury, illness, or escaping harm
  16. For emergencies or compassionate reasons.

Victoria has very similar rules, with much smaller fines of $1652 for individuals caught breaking them.

Queensland has introduced on-the-spot fines of $1334, though disobeying quarantine orders result in a $13,345 fine.

Tasmanians face $750 on-the-spot fines. Ten people have already been fined for camping in closed areas. WA and SA both have $1000 fines, and ACT will give you a second chance with a warning before fines.

The NT has yet to introduce any specific fines for breaking social distancing rules, focusing instead on securing its borders and protecting remote communities.

Wage subsidy

Workers may now actually have a chance of paying off fines if they break the law, thanks to the new wage subsidy unveiled in the latest $130 billion stimulus package.

The government will pay a company up to $750 a week for employees, including casual workers provided they work regularly and have been there for more than a year.

Companies will need to have lost between 30% and 50% of their turnover to be eligible.

Vincent Van Gone

A Van Gogh painting has been stolen from a museum in The Netherlands, which was closed due to coronavirus restrictions. The painting, “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884”, was stolen from the Singer Laren — where it was on loan from the Groninger Museum — some time last night.

The value of the painting is estimated to be between one and six million euros (A$1.8 to A$10.8 million).