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Man fined for eating a kebab on a public bench under social distancing laws

More than 50 people have been fined across the country in accordance with the new social distancing laws.

The laws were created in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Individuals may now be fined up to $1000 for ignoring social distancing requirements. Consequently, the laws have imposed an unprecedented restriction on public organisation and civil liberties.

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More than 50 people in Australia have copped fines for breaching the new social distancing laws, including a lone man eating a kebab on a park bench.

Governing bodies have reiterated that the measures are necessary in curtailing the virus. However, there is growing concern among justice advocates that they will only result in increased pressure in over-policed communities. Transgressions are ultimately left to the discretion of individual police officers, leaving those in frequent police contact potentially vulnerable.

Additionally, authorities have been criticised for communicative inconsistency; the laws themselves remain as a nebulous idea to both police agencies and the public domain, rather than being explicitly reinforced through various modes of communication.

Queensland Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski addressed this issue in a statement this week: I understand there is confusion around what people can and can’t do and we will aim to clarify directions as they come into force.”

A total of 13 people received fines on Wednesday. In Newcastle, a 21-year-old man received a $1000 fine for eating a kebab on a public bench. He was apparently warned by police on two separate occasions earlier that day.

In the midst of the confusion around the self-isolating laws, police have typically leant towards a lenient approach, issuing warnings rather than immediate fines.

However, police have warned that glaring ignorance for public heath and safety will not be tolerated. Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski continues: Blatant disregard of the directions such as house parties will be enforced. Police will use discretion in other instances acting on intelligence or reported complaints.”

It remains to be seen how this discretion will be used.

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April 3, 2020