Early release for prisoners if pandemic hits jails
Low risk, vulnerable prisoners could be released from jail early to protect them from COVID-19 infection, if there is outbreak in the state's prisons.
The measure was part of a raft of emergency changes passed through parliament on Tuesday to combat the spread of the disease.
Supermarkets will also be allowed to trade over the Easter long weekend, and Anzac Day, in an attempt to stop hoarders stripping shelves bare.
It comes as the Premier warned the state could face stricter lockdowns if people don't take self-isolation and social distancing seriously.
As the total number of cases hit 818 on Monday night, the rate of new infections is accelerating. In the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday, 149 people contracted the disease.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the state must work together to stop the spread of the virus before it gets out of hand.
She warned NSW could be put under stricter lockdown measures, like those imposed in the UK and New Zealand, if people don't heed social distancing and isolation warnings. "Undoubtedly, if we don't control the spread, we are looking at those options," she said.
"When Dr (Kerry) Chant and myself say that we are at a critical time in reducing the spread, we don't say it lightly."
NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said his officers are "absolutely" up to the task of enforcing a total lockdown, if it was required.
On Tuesday, parliament passed urgent changes allowing police officers to arrest anyone suspected of breaching imposed self-isolation.
Under a raft of new measures passed on Tuesday, certain prisoners will be eligible for early parole to prevent them from infection in the case of a coronavirus outbreak in the state's prisons.
The measures come as jails across the world continue to endure riots and prisoner unrest over the threat the killer virus poses to incarcerated populations.
Recently jailed sex offender film producer Harvey Weinstein was diagnosed with COVID-19 just days after being moved from New York's notorious Riker's Island jail complex, which has had a spate of cases.
"These extraordinary measures are only to be used to respond to the threat of COVID-19," Attorney-General Mark Speakman said regarding the new NSW laws. The measures would apply to "vulnerable offenders and others who pose a low risk to the community".
Serious offenders would not be eligible for early release, Mr Speakman said.
Originally published as Early release for prisoners if pandemic hits jails