An Illawarra man is the first person to be issued with a $1000 fine in the region following new powers given to police under the Public Health Act.
Police officers stopped a 21-year-old man walking along Osborne Parade, Warilla about 3.40am on Monday claiming he was returning home after drinking with friends at the park.
Following further inquiries, police discovered he had been issued with a warning for the stay-at-home rule the previous day and was therefore issued an infringement notice for $1000 for failing to comply with health directions.
The NSW Premier and NSW Health Minister have outlined orders under the Public Health Act that state a person must not leave their home without a reasonable excuse.
The laws govern what reasons people can have to be out of their house without attracting new fines of up to $11,000 or six months' jail.
Lake Illawarra Police District Commander, Detective Superintendent Dean Smith said police officers had used "their discretion to this point, issuing several warnings and move on directions".
"I am sure in the lead up to Easter that we will continue to find those who show total disregard for the health direction requirements," he said.
"I want to thank the community for their compliance so far.
"The majority of the people have been fantastic in abiding by these new rules, however, it is disappointing that some either don't get or care about the impact that their actions may have on others who are most vulnerable in our community."
Superintendent Smith said police officers would focus their patrols on the district's beaches, around lake Illawarra, Reddall Parade as well as state parks, Bass Point, Killalea and Gerroa areas.
"We will also maintain our focus in and around our shopping centres to ensure social distancing is in place," he said.
Supt Smith's advice was, "if you are questioning whether you should be doing something, it is best to give it a miss".
"A quick visit to the beach or the park may sound harmless, but if everyone did it, we would not be complying with social distancing guidelines," he said.
"We need to work together as a community to embrace these rules and make the best of the situation at hand so we can move through this crisis as quickly and smoothly as possible.
"Police want to work with the public to understand and adhere to these rules and enforce them at their discretion, we all need to do our part."
We have removed our paywall from our stories about the coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we aim to make sure our readers are as informed as possible. If you would like to support our journalists you can subscribe here.