$5,000 fine for spitting or coughing on frontline workers in NSW amid COVID-19 lockdown

Anyone who intentionally spits or coughs on public officials in New South Wales will be charged with a $5,000 on-the-spot fine. 

Brad Hazzard, the NSW Health Minister, claimed there was a disturbing trend of abuse towards people in uniform, such as healthcare workers and police. The State Government was forced to introduce penalties for this aggressive behavior. As ABC News reported, Hazzard said this was necessary due to the “sufficient minority” of people causing harm amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“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. These frontline workers are caring for us and the simple fact is we need to care for them.”

An urgent request from NSW Health and representatives from unions for healthcare services and police was the cause of the change under the Public Health Regulation 2012.

It was signed on Thursday, April 9th.

Moreover, intentionally spitting and coughing on public officials could also lead to offenders being imprisoned for up to six months. Tony King, the chief of the Police Association NSW, said officers were on the receiving end of “despicable and vile behavior”.

“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.”

People receiving fines for not following the mandatory social distancing restrictions were reportedly coughing on officers and claiming they had coronavirus.

This was stated by the police in New South Wales.

Shockingly, according to the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NMA), healthcare workers were being told not to wear their uniforms outside of the hospital. They reported medics and nurses were horribly treated on pubic transport, refused service at grocery stores, and spit on by people accusing them of spreading the virus.

Brett Holmes, the NMA general secretary, notified he received numerous reports about people’s abusive behavior towards nurses and midwives. He claimed he has heard of similar cases 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.”

According to Holmes, there was a “great deal of aggression” against medics and public officials.

The acts of intentionally spitting on them were on the “serious end” of abuse. Even though the offenders were faking COVID-19 symptoms, they might really be infected, and their abusive actions could expose the healthcare workers to the virus.

“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. This is a growing behaviour that needs to be stamped out now.”

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