NSWHealth introduces $5,000 fine for spitting or coughing on frontline workers in coronavirus lockdown
Spitting and coughing on frontline workers in New South Wales, including healthcare workers and police, will now see offenders slapped with a $5,000 on-the-spot fine.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said a disturbing trend of abuse and assault towards people in uniform amid the coronavirus pandemic forced the State Government to introduce penalties for aggressive behaviour.
He said a "sufficient minority" of people causing harm led to the government intervention.
"How incredibly ridiculous is it that anybody could think it's acceptable to spit or caught on frontline health workers, health officials, police or indeed any of our Border Force officials," he said.
"These frontline workers are caring for us and the simple fact is we need to care for them."
The change under the Public Health Regulation 2012 was signed today after an "urgent" request from NSW Health and representatives from unions for healthcare services and police.
People found intentionally spitting or coughing on police officers during the pandemic could also be jailed for up to six months.
The chief of the Police Association NSW, Tony King, said officers were on the receiving end of "despicable and vile behaviour".
"We've had incidents where people think it's funny to record walking into police stations and coughing and put it up on social media, this is disgusting," Mr King said.
NSW Police reported people receiving fines for not adhering to physical-distancing guidelines were coughing on officers and then claiming they had COVID-19.
Last week, the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NMA) reported healthcare workers were being told not to wear their uniforms outside of the hospital.
Nurses and midwives reported being assaulted on public transport, refused service at grocery stores and spit on by members of the public accusing them of spreading the virus.
NMA general secretary Brett Holmes said he had received dozens of reports of abuse from nurses and midwives, some from this morning.
He said he was receiving similar reports from healthcare workers in other states.
"This is a strong message to those people who are ignorantly accusing health workers of spreading the disease because they're travelling to and from work dressed in their uniform," he said.
Mr Holmes said there was a "great deal of aggression" towards its members and that people coughing and spitting on them were some of the more serious acts being reported to him.
"We've had nurses on trains surrounded by a couple of young persons who then decided that this person was a nurse so therefore they had to cough all over her," he said.
"This is a growing behaviour that needs to be stamped out now."
Ads Links by Easy Branches
Play online games for free at games.easybranches.com