Fines for spitting on NSW frontline staff

People in NSW risk being fined $5000 if they spit or cough on frontline staff such as police.
People in NSW risk being fined $5000 if they spit or cough on frontline staff such as police.

People who spit on NSW health workers, police or other public health officials during the COVID-19 pandemic could be slapped with a $5000 on-the-spot fine.

The tough new measure is in response to the "abhorrent" acts of some individuals in recent weeks, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Police Minister David Elliott say.

Mr Hazzard says doctors, nurses, police and paramedics put their own health and safety on the line to protect NSW residents and the government will be treating threats to them as a "threat to us".

"How incredibly ridiculous is it that anybody can think it is acceptable to spit on or cough on frontline health workers, health officials, police or any of our border force officials," he said on Thursday.

"We're telling you, stop it or you'll cop it."

People risk being fined $5000 for breaching the new public health order, which was signed on Thursday.

Mr Elliott said people who intentionally spit or cough on police officers during the pandemic could also face prosecution and up to six months in prison.

"Like most people, I find the recent actions of a handful of individuals utterly foul and obnoxious but worryingly, the behaviour is potentially life-threatening," Mr Elliot said.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said it is "incomprehensible" that measures like this are necessary during a global pandemic.

"Police won't hesitate to take action," he said.

Australian Associated Press