Goulburn police have issued the first penalty infringement notices under the Public Health Act.
Officers were called to a home in Teece Place, Goulburn at 9.20pm Saturday where they said two men had become involved in a physical altercation.
They said a 34-year-old man sustained a cut above his eye, was subsequently treated at Goulburn Base Hospital and released.
He and his 24-year-old witness were issued with a penalty infringement notice for contravening the Public Health Act. The Act, which came in to force last week, gives police power to issue infringement notices if people leave their home without reasonable excuse. Sixteen justifications apply, including leaving the house for good or services or for work or education. The laws are aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus.
Inspector Matt Hinton said neither man resided at the premises.
Goulburn police said the person of interest in the matter, a 35-year-old man who lived at the address, was not issued with an infringement notice and was yet to be interviewed.
No charges have been laid at this stage.
They were two of 18 notices issued across NSW over the weekend. Most of these (16) occurred in Sydney.
Inspector Hinton said issuing the infringement notices was a last resort and the focus was very much on educating people.
"I'm humbled by the fact that the community has generally complied with the new laws, which I understand is a major change to their lives," he said.
Local police have fielded numerous calls from the community about permissable movements. They are being referred to the NSW Health website for more information.
Statistics released on Monday morning showed 53 coronavirus cases in the Southern NSW Local Health District, an increase of two from Friday. However the 10 confirmed cases in Goulburn Mulwaree has remained stable since Tuesday.
Meantime, the Local Emergency Management Committee, comprising Health, police, ambulance, fire authorities, Goulburn Mulwaree Council, Corrective Services and other agencies, has been meeting weekly.
Minutes from the March 24 meeting, tendered to Tuesday's council meeting, reveal police concerns with the level of information NSW Health was releasing.
Inspector Hinton said this had changed in the past week and privacy hurdles had been cleared to allow officers to check on the confirmed cases and other people who had returned from overseas to ensure they were self isolating. They are also ensuring they have welfare assistance if needed.
"We are trying to exercise compassion but also to educate people about the new laws," he said.
"Our whole mission is to to stop the spread of coronavirus."
Inspector Hinton said Goulburn Base Hospital had very good plans in place and the area was fortunate not to have any local transmission so far. All 10 people had acquired the virus overseas and all were self isolating.
Goulburn Health Service operations manager Mathivanan Sakthivel told the March 24 emergency management committee meeting that two of the six beds in intensive care were allocated to COVID-19 cases. A request had been made for another six beds in a dedicated ward.
The Health District said no people with coronavirus in Goulburn Mulwaree has required hospitalisation.
The NSW Corrections representative informed the meeting that there were no confirmed cases in Goulburn Jail. A total 23 prisoners were in isolation, 14 had been tested and two had been admitted to Goulburn Base Hosital for tests, which subsequently proved negative.
Charged for spitting
In related news, a 37-year-old man claiming to have COVID-19 virus will appear in Nowra court on Monday after allegedly assaulting and spitting at officers.
Officers from South Coast Police District said they were attempting to arrest the man about 8.30am on Saturday, when he allegedly punched an officer in the face.
ALSO READ: How COVID-19 is unfolding around Australia
It's alleged the man spat in the face of the injured senior constable, while claiming to have the COVID-19 virus. He's been charged with assault police causing actual bodily harm, assault police, and intimidate police.
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