'Throw the book' at Tas quarantine escapee

Asia's Tech News Daily

© Ethan James/AAP PHOTOS Tasmanian restrictions, covering 12 government areas including Hobart, came into effect on Friday.

Tasmania’s premier wants extra penalties dished out to a coronavirus-infected NSW man whose hotel quarantine escape sparked a snap three-day lockdown.

No new cases were recorded as of Saturday morning after the island’s south, including Hobart, began stay-at-home restrictions at 6pm on Friday.

The 31-year-old man has refused to co-operate with contact tracers after being arrested in Hobart’s northern suburbs on Tuesday.

He earlier absconded from the city’s Travelodge hotel and spent 18 hours in the community, including two houses, a Woolworths supermarket and park.

His primary close contact list has jumped to 158 people, with 40 of those so far returning negative tests.

“The next 48 hours remain critical. I ask all Tasmanians in the south to work together to get on top of this as quickly as we can,” Premier Peter Gutwein said.

The man, who arrived via Melbourne on Monday night without a valid border pass, has been fined $3000 for the breaches.

Mr Gutwein said he has asked Tasmania Police to “consider all avenues” for increasing his punishment.

“We should throw the book at people that flout our rules and send a very strong signal that this is just simply not on,” he said.

“The sum of the fine that this individual has received at the moment simply doesn’t appear to be in line with the crime.

“This is a breach that has brought southern Tasmania to a standstill.”

Deputy commissioner Donna Adams said police would examine the man’s circumstances once the public health response had concluded.

She said he could be brought before court, where he may face up to six months’ jail or a $17,000 fine.

There were more than 1400 tests completed in the past day, a record for Tasmania.

Under the restrictions, the first time Tasmanians have experienced a lockdown since early in the pandemic, people must remain at home except for a handful of essential reasons.

The news sparked a wave of panic buying on Friday afternoon at supermarkets in the south.

Face masks must be worn outside home, while cafes, restaurants and hotels are only allowed to serve takeaway, and a host of businesses have closed.

In response to the lockdown, Queensland is requiring people from southern Tasmania to quarantine upon entry from 1am Sunday.

Tasmania has just one other active case, a 15-year-old boy who flouted home quarantine rules in Launceston earlier this month.

On the back of tough border measures, the state has recorded just three cases this year.

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