A New South Wales man who was fined $1,000 for sitting in a park has had his infringement notice withdrawn, in a move that could see thousands more follow suit.
The man was sitting in a park in August 2021 when he received the infringement notice. Police claimed the fine was issued because he was not actively exercising.
However, later that same month, the rules were updated to include relaxation as a form of outdoor activity.
More than 45,000 COVID-19 fines are still yet to be paid and legal groups have been calling for many to be withdrawn.
The Redfern Legal Centre (RLC) said fines issued for relaxing outdoors should all be revoked.
“Outdoor recreation includes sitting for relaxation, eating, drinking, or reading outdoors,” the RLC said.
The RLC said its COVID-19 fines advice service had been contacted by numerous people issued with penalty notices for lawful recreation activities such as sitting in parks away from others, not gathering, and not in an area of concern.
“The public health order allows for people in Greater Sydney and New South Wales, except for the areas of concern, to undertake recreation with one other person or with members of the same household," Samantha Lee, solicitor with RLC's police accountability practice, said.
“If police have issued a fine to someone just because they were sitting and not breaching the COVID rules, then that fine should be dismissed.
“We are concerned that the cases we are seeing are just the tip of the iceberg, and that many more people may have been fined by police when they were not doing anything wrong.”