NSW police will “throw the book” at businesses caught flouting COVID-19 rules, Premier warns

COVID-19 rules

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Source: AAP/Joel Carrett.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned police will “throw the book” at businesses caught flouting public health rules, as coronavirus clusters continue to emerge from venues across Sydney.

NSW recorded 16 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday as authorities continue to track a cluster tied to a restaurant in Sydney’s west, raising new concerns about whether businesses are properly following COVID-19 safety rules.

Berejiklian said authorities are still unsatisfied with levels of compliance among businesses as the state prepares to make COVIDSafe business plans mandatory from Friday.

“Any business that doesn’t do the right thing, will have the book thrown at them,” Berejiklian said during a press conference on Wednesday morning.

“You will be fined. Worse than that, if you breach again, you will be shut down,” the Premier said.

Over the past week, more than 80 cases have been tied to outbreaks at Sydney hospitality businesses, prompting officials to tighten regulations around COVIDSafe business plans.

From Friday, the self-regulatory approach to COVIDSafe plans in NSW will end and a mandatory scheme will come into effect.

“We asked businesses to download them and to adhere to them. A lack of compliance now has made us go down the compulsory path and we don’t apologise for that,” Berejiklian said.

“Every business is on notice.”

Berejiklian raised the spectre of tighter trading restrictions if authorities could not be confident businesses across the state would comply with existing public health rules.

“We don’t want have to impose further restrictions or further measures that could jeopardise, not just our ability to contain the virus, but our ability to keep people in jobs,” the Premier said.

COVIDSafe plans require businesses to promise they will follow a range of hygiene, physical distancing and contract tracing regulations, depending on the industry they operate in.

Plans can be accessed online, but businesses must also register those plans with the state government.

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