Two men and a woman will face court in Adelaide today, charged with failing to comply with a direction under SA’s Emergency Management Act.
The trio crossed the border from Victoria on Saturday afternoon. One claimed to need urgent medical attention, but police began a search after they failed to turned up to the Adelaide hospital they nominated to officers at the SA border check.
Their ute was found at Mawson Lakes on Sunday, with police locating the woman nearby and two men a short distance away in a taxi.
Last week, four men who stowed away on a freight train from Melbourne and were found in an Adelaide railyard were given good-behaviour bonds.
Under current rules, anyone breaching COVID-19 regulations in SA is liable to a $1000 on-the-spot fine, but could also be taken to court where the maximum penalty is a $20,000 fine.
Premier Steven Marshall told reporters today jail terms for people flouting the state’s COVID-10 hard border restrictions was “something we’re (the Government) happy to consider”.
“We want to send the strongest message possible,” he said.
“We can’t be too casual when it comes to the coronavirus.”
The harsher penalty also has the backing of SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, who said that while fines, including on-the-spot penalties and those imposed by the courts, could be a significant deterrent, he backed making a prison term an option.
“It’s an opportunity to add some weight….but I’m not convinced these sort of things are front-of-mind for the types of people who are trying to sneak across borders,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide.
“There are people who, regardless of the consequences, are still going to seek to do this.
“That’s why we’ve got so many police, supported by the defence force, on our borders trying to keep an eye on everybody coming across.”
Labor last week called for the Emergency Management Act to be amended to give courts the ability to impose prison sentences of up to two years for anyone breaching a direction of the State Co-ordinator, such as border restrictions or quarantine orders.
Opposition leader Peter Malinauskas said the State Government must support its amendments.
“We are ready to make those changes in Parliament this week and the Liberals must be ready to join us in making these changes to protect South Australians,” he said.
“We must send a clear message about the seriousness of this crime and give the courts the power to jail COVID-19 lawbreakers.
“South Australia has done very well in tackling the health impacts of COVID-19 and we need the deterrents in place to ensure people are not tempted to breach our tough restrictions.”
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