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, the country’s Covid Response Minister, Chris Hipkins, said today (21 September).
“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,” Hipkins noted
“Police continue to report high compliance levels at checkpoints and in their day-to-day interactions with people across the country.
Behaviour of minority is unacceptable
“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.”
The minister said rule-breaking risked spreading the virus, and the fines which have been in place no longer properly reflected the significant social and economic impacts of a single case of the virus getting out into the community.
Breaches by a small minority of people created a risk for everyone. The new penalties would provide further deterrence to those who chose to break the rules.
Among the changes are an increased penalty for failing to comply with a Covid-19 requirement. This has been specified as an infringement offence and will increase to a maximum infringement fee of NZ$4,000 (previously NZ$300) or a NZ$12,000 maximum court-imposed fine – a rise of NZ$1,000.
‘Failure to comply’ fine is set to triple
Examples of infringement offences include failure to wear a face covering in places where it is mandatory.
In addition, 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 NZ$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 an Alert Level 2 area.
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.