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Fines for those who cough on public officials and workers

A person coughing into the air

By Juliano Oliveira

A new public health resolution set in Queensland will guarantee fines of up to $13,345 for those who deliberately cough, sneeze or spit on public officials and workers including shop assistants.

The direction, which is already in force, allows for a $1,335 on the spot fine or a court ordered penalty of up to $13,345.

“Our retail workers, police and paramedics deserve to be protected – I was disturbed to hear stories of people threatening to deliberately infect frontline staff,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

“It’s disgusting and I want police to throw the book at them.”

“During the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, any person who intentionally coughs, sneezes or spits at a public official or a worker, or threatens to do so, can be fined up to $13,345. They may also face criminal charges.” 

A public official or a worker is anyone at work or travelling for work during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Health workers and Health Department officials 
  • Police, fire and ambulance officers 
  • Retail workers 
  • Food delivery workers 
  • Transport workers including ferry, bus and train crews and taxi and ride-share drivers 
  • Council workers  
  • Electricity, gas and water meter readers 
  • Airport workers
  • Teachers and school staff

SDA State Secretary, Chris Gazenbeek said retail and fast-food workers have been dealing with customer abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There has to be zero tolerance for this sort of behaviour being directed at the amazing workers who have been keeping our community going during the COVID-19 crisis, whether it’s retail workers, health workers, police, public transport workers or any other worker.

“These are our neighbours stocking our shelves and manning our cash registers. They are also your friends’ sons and daughters and your colleagues’ partner or parent.  Sometimes we’ve all just got to step back and remember that we’re all in this together.”

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