Saturday, November 27

Covid-19 Violations: Violation Fines Will Increase Dramatically

Failure to comply with Covid-19 restrictions will now mean an infringement fee increase of up to $ 12,000 for individuals when imposed by a court, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced.

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Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Speaking at the daily Covid-19 briefing this afternoon, Ardern said fines for violations of the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act were increasing due to the view that the violation regime did not reflect the severity of infractions.

“Our success has really been based on the fact that people in general have complied with the rules … yet there have been some people who have broken the rules and put others at risk. Specifically, we have had some people who have escaped MIQ, even in a handful of cases, with Covid, who have posed a threat to the community. “

He said there were some problems early on, but they were reduced when the government introduced fines for those who broke the rules, such as alert levels or MIQ rules.

“It is the Cabinet’s view that these fees do not adequately reflect the significant social and economic impacts of a single Covid-19 case reaching the community, and they also do not act as a sufficient incentive to comply with the rules,” Ardern said. .

As with a traffic ticket, individuals can receive a violation notice for breaking the rules. If the infringement fee is not paid in full before the due date, it is referred to the Ministry of Justice for enforcement, when it becomes a “fine.”

On-site violation notification fees were initially set at $ 300, with fines of up to $ 1,000 when imposed by a court, but Ardern said today they would increase.

Notices of violation would increase to $ 4,000 for individuals and $ 12,000 for businesses, while fines imposed by the courts would increase to a maximum of $ 12,000 for individuals and $ 15,000 for businesses.

People convicted of criminal offenses, such as intentional failure to comply with an order or intentionally threatening, assaulting, or hindering a law enforcement officer, can also face fines and imprisonment.

The fine for a criminal offense would increase from $ 4,000 to $ 12,000 or six months in prison, with an additional fee of up to $ 15,000 introduced for businesses.

Ardern said those were maximums subject to the court’s discretion and would take effect from November 2021 subject to passage of the Covid-19 Public Health Response amendment bill.

These fines are for people who do something specified as a violation in a Covid-19 order.

He said there was a balance between making sure people understood the rules, but also the consequences of breaking those rules.

“I think the sheer magnitude of having someone with Covid-19 breaking those rules, the impact on the community, we need to make sure the fines really reflect the seriousness of the situation.”

The prosecutions were not made by politicians, he said.

“Prosecution decisions are not ultimately made by us. We need to establish the framework and the infractions that are available in the event that those prosecutions are made and I think that actually there will probably be an opinion from the general public that when they are they’re putting people at risk, you need to have a violation regime that reflects the seriousness of some of those rule violations.

“Where they are used and how they are used, what fines are awarded, that is out of our hands.”

In a statement, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that examples of violations would include not wearing a face shield in places where it is mandatory.

Criminal offenses could include traveling without permission or traveling for a purpose other than permitted, from an area of ​​alert level 4 or 3 to alert level 2.

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