The NSW Police Force has launched an expansion of the multi-agency hotel quarantine operation to now include NSW residents returning from Victoria.
It follows an amendment to COVID-19 Public Health Orders which came into effect at 12.01am Friday August 7, 2020.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard issued an amendment to the Public Health (COVID-19 Air Transportation Quarantine) Order 2020 under section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010, which now directs NSW residents returning from Victoria must go directly to a quarantine facility run by either NSW Police Force or NSW Health.
Further, amendments to the Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Order 2020 mean NSW residents returning from Victoria, unless they live within the NSW border regions, will only be allowed to re-enter NSW through Sydney Airport.
Following a NSW Police Force request, a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) has been issued, which prohibits passengers from Victoria without a valid permit or exemption from landing at any regional NSW airport.
The police operation along the NSW/Victorian border is continuing, and the existing operation facilitating the mandatory hotel quarantine of all returned international travellers also remains ongoing.
Since that quarantine operation commenced on Sunday March 29, 2020, more than 36,000 people have completed the mandatory 14-day quarantine period in Sydney hotels.
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NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said there was no doubt the hotel quarantine operation had been one of the state's most effective tools in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
"The professional management of this operation has dramatically reduced the risk of COVID-19 spread within the community, and our officers will continue to do everything in their power to ensure that record is maintained going forward," Commissioner Fuller said.
"From today, NSW residents returning from Victoria will now also be required to enter either a NSW Police- or NSW Health-managed hotel.
"Our officers have been working hard over the past few days to facilitate the expansion of this operation, and I want to assure the community of NSW these additional measures are now well and truly in place.
"Make no mistake - mandatory hotel quarantine has undoubtedly saved many lives, particularly among our vulnerable community members, and will continue to do so as we navigate this public health threat."
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said the expansion of the mandatory hotel quarantine operation was critical to our ongoing response to this pandemic.
"This is a timely and responsive measure to limit the spread of COVID-19 in NSW," Minister Elliott said.
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"As a government we have taken a cautious and balanced approach to managing this health crisis and the state's economy, and to date we have had some success - but we are still in the midst of the pandemic.
"It is critical that we continue to protect the health of our citizens as we face the continued threat of this health crisis."
Operation Border Closure Commander, Assistant Commissioner Leanne McCusker, said the police footprint at Sydney Airport had been boosted to ensure the integrity of the operation continued to be maintained.
"In conjunction with the Australian Defence Force, Australian Federal Police, NSW Health and the Australian Border Force, we have put in place strict infection control measures which have ensured no community transmission from returned travellers has occurred to date," Assistant Commissioner McCusker said.
"All travellers are assessed by NSW Health on arrival at Sydney Airport and those displaying symptoms of COVID-19 are escorted to a hotel managed by NSW Health, while the remainder are escorted to hotels managed by the NSW Police Force.
"These procedures are now well established and have served the community of NSW well, by dramatically reducing the community spread of COVID-19 within the state and keeping infection levels low."
The Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) provides police with the power to enforce Public Health Orders. It is an offence for a person to fail to comply with an order, and severe penalties apply, which include a maximum penalty of up to $11,000 and/or six months imprisonment for individuals.
The standard penalty is a $1000 fine by way of a Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN).
It is an offence to provide police false information in relation to whether a person is authorised to enter NSW. The standard penalty for this offence is a $4000 fine way of a PIN.
Police continue to appeal to the community to report suspected breaches of any ministerial direction or behaviour which may impact on the health and safety of the community.
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