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New Zealand increases fines for COVID-19 rule breakers

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WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand on Friday announced higher fines of up to NZ$12,000 ($8,400) for individuals breaching coronavirus restrictions amid concerns that the current outbreak may spread beyond Auckland to other regions due to people breaking rules.

“Our success has been really based on the fact that people by and large have been compliant,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference.

“However, there has been the odd person that has broken the rules and put others at risk,” she said.

A person who intentionally fails to comply with a COVID-19 order, such as travelling without permission, will have committed a criminal offence and is now liable on conviction for a fine of up to NZ$12,000, up from NZ$4,000, or six months imprisonment. Fines for companies can go up to NZ$15,000.

On-the-spot fines for infringement offences like failing to wear a mask where it is mandatory will be increased to NZ$4,000 for individuals from NZ$300 previously. If the matter goes to court, the court can impose a fine of up to NZ$12,000.

The changes will take effect in November, subject to the passing of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Bill. 

Reuters

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