RLC calls for unlawfully issued COVID-19 fines to be revoked

RLC is calling on the NSW Government to revoke all COVID-19 fines that have been wrongfully issued by NSW Police to people undertaking lawful recreation.

Under current COVID-19 laws, people in NSW living outside of LGAs of concern are lawfully able to undertake exercise and outdoor recreation with one other person, members of their household, or their nominated person. Outdoor recreation includes sitting for relaxation, eating, drinking, or reading outdoors. 

Despite this, RLC's free statewide COVID-19 fines advice service has been contacted by numerous people issued with penalty notices for lawful recreation activities such as sitting in parks away from others, not gathering, and not in an area of concern. Up until 12 August 2021, those living in areas of concern could also undertake recreation.

“The public health order allows for people in Greater Sydney and New South Wales, except for the areas of concern, to undertake recreation with one other person or with members of the same household," Samantha Lee, solicitor with RLC's police accountability practice said.

“If police have issued a fine to someone just because they were sitting and not breaching the COVID rules, then that fine should be dismissed. 

“We are concerned that the cases we are seeing are just the tip of the iceberg, and that many more people may have been fined by police when they were not doing anything wrong,” Ms Lee said.

“The actions of police should be accountable and transparent. Police are a government body and their actions should be reviewable. Accountability and transparency help to build trust in police and the process."

RLC is providing free, confidential legal advice to people issued with a COVID-19 fine across NSW.

Visit rlc.org.au/contact or call us on 02 9698 7727 for advice about appeal and payment review options. We can also arrange for a free interpreter if required.

See also

COVID fines open letter

Police caution needed in COVID public health enforcement

‘What do you think you’re doing?’: Sydneysiders stung for eating outside (Sydney Morning Herald, 25 August 2021)