Significant increase to COVID-19 penalties
Penalties for breaches of COVID-19 orders are set to significantly increase from early November 2021 to better reflect the seriousness of any behaviour that threatens New Zealand’s response to the virus, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today.
“Throughout this Delta outbreak we’ve seen the overwhelming majority of people doing their bit by complying with Alert Level restrictions, which are there to protect our communities by stopping the spread of COVID-19,” Chris Hipkins said.
“Police continue to report high compliance levels at checkpoints and in their day-to-day interactions with people across the country.
“Disappointingly however a number of serious breaches have occurred, which seriously put at risk the good progress we’ve made to stamp out Delta. I think all New Zealanders would agree that this behaviour is unacceptable.
“Rule breaking risks spreading the virus, and the fees which have been in place no longer properly reflect the significant social and economic impacts of a single case of COVID-19 getting out in the community.
“Breaches by a small minority create a risk for everyone, and these new penalties will provide further deterrence to those who choose to break the rules,” Chris Hipkins said.
The changes are:
- The penalty for failing to comply with a COVID-19 requirement that has been specified as an infringement offence will increase to a maximum infringement fee of $4,000 (previously $300) or a $12,000 maximum court imposed fine, up from $1,000. Examples of infringement offences include failure to wear a face covering in places where it is mandatory.
- A person who intentionally fails to comply with a COVID-19 order, thereby committing a criminal offence, is now liable on conviction for a fine of up to $12,000, up from $4,000, or six months imprisonment.
That could include offences such as a person travelling without permission, or travelling for a purpose other than what was permitted, from an Alert Level 4 or 3 area to Alert Level 2.
- A maximum infringement fee of $12,000 or maximum criminal offence fine of $15,000 has also been introduced for body corporates who fail to have systems and processes in place in accordance with the Health Order.
These changes will take effect in November, subject to the passing of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Bill.