The enforcement of COVID-19 public health orders during lockdown

Release Date: Wednesday 27 October 2021

Link to report summary:-

The vast majority of Sydney residents report that they strictly complied with COVID-19 public-health orders during the recent lockdown.  Despite that, NSW Police issued an extraordinary 36,597 COVID-19 public health orders breaches in July and August 2021. These account for 90% of all COVID-19 breaches issued during the pandemic to date.

A new study from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) investigates COVID-19 breaches in July and August 2021, including the behaviours people were breached for, the location of breaches and the characteristics of people who were breached.  This information is compared with self-reported rates of non-compliance from survey data.  

The study finds:

  • Breaches commonly involved non-essential travel (just over a third of breaches), failing to wear a face covering (30%) and visiting other households (about 14%).
  • 9 in 10 breaches were dealt with by a fine. The typical fine amount was $1,000.
  • Breaches mostly involved males (74%), people aged 18 to 39 (61%), and non-Aboriginal people (95% where recorded).  Half had a prior offence in the previous 5 years.
  • 37% of breaches were detected in an LGA of concern. LGAs of concern accounted for 78% of the new COVID infections recorded in in NSW in July and August 2021, but comprise only 28% of the NSW population.  

Survey data showed that self-reported rates of compliance was generally high across all areas of Greater Sydney. Less than one in five respondents reported engaging in more serious non-compliance such as visiting family or friends or gathering in large groups. The survey also showed that compliance was slightly higher among people residing in LGAs of concern, and there were very few differences between younger and older age groups.

Commenting on the findings, Jackie Fitzgerald, Executive Director at BOCSAR said that enforcement activity at certain times and locations appeared to be a major factor driving breach detections. "While most people adhered strictly to the public health orders during lockdown, a subset of the population were less inclined to comply. Interestingly the study suggests that compliance was greater in LGAs of concern possibly because the COVID-19 risk was higher or possibly due to more enforcement."

Further enquiries: Jackie Fitzgerald, Executive Director, BOCSAR  0423 139 687
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