Motorists fill out paperwork for police as they cross back into South Australia from Victoria during the COVID-19 outbreak, in Bordertown, Australia, March 24, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]
SYDNEY - Australia's Queensland State government has established a special police unit to enforce public health orders amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, officials revealed on Tuesday.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said even though the state's health department had allocated 500 staff working on COVID-19 contact tracing, the job needed to be strengthened.
According to Palaszczuk, the newly established police unit led by Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath, would boost current COVID-19 tracing and quarantine work as its members were experienced law enforcement officers.
"There may be additional people from law enforcement agencies (involved)," Palaszczuk said. "They have one job, and their job is to make sure people are complying."
Like their counterparts in other states, Queensland police have been given new powers to issue spot fines to people not following newly introduced social distancing rules.
Despite Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll promising to exercise the new power carefully, Queensland Human Rights Commissioner Scott McDougall raised his concerns about the possible civil rights violations in those actions.
"As we get on the other side of the virus curve, the question needs to be asked about justifying these restrictions," McDougall said.
Queensland health authorities have already contacted tracing for 50,000 people who have been in close contact with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and ordered over 40,000 people into self-isolation or quarantine.