ACT Policing will only issue fines for breaches of new social distancing rules as an "absolute last resort", according to its chief officer.
But chief officer Ray Johnson said officers would not hesitate in handing out $8000 fines if they witnessed "flagrant breaches" of the rules, which have been introduced to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the nation's capital.
Chief officer Johnson and Chief Minister Andrew Barr fronted the media to explain how new rules prohibiting gatherings of more than two people would be enforced.
The two-person limit does not apply to members of the same family or household. It also doesn't apply at airports, on public transport, schools, workplaces and hospitals, among other places.
Mr Barr said the rules were designed to reduce physical interaction between people, and therefore reduce the risk of the virus spreading.
"To put it in simple terms, all Canberrans should be limiting guests inside their homes as much as possible," he said.
"This is not the time for inviting family or friends around for drinks or dinner. We understand that this is a challenge, but the more effective we are in implementing these measures the shorter the time period they will need to be in place."
In terms of enforcement, chief officer Johnson said police would be focused primarily on educating Canberrans about the new rules. This could include police officers approaching people in public to speak with them about their behaviour.
"Our intention isn't to fine people or to drive enforcement ... that is an absolute last resort," he said.
"But please know that if we see flagrant breaches of the law, we will act."
The wording of the rules, published late on Tuesday night, has raised some confused about what types of interactions are prohibited.
For example, one section states that a person should not visit another house if social distancing "cannot be observed". This begs the question of whether someone is allowed to visit their partner if they don't live with them.
The Victorian chief health officer said on Wednesday that it wouldn't penalise people for staying with, or visiting, their partner.
Chief officer Johnson would not comment specifically on the partner scenario, choosing instead to encourage people not to overthink the rules.
"If you're trying to find a reason to do something, [the right answer] is the option that gets the least number of people together in one place - it's not more complicated than that," he said.
As the new rules came into force on Wednesday, the police union called for officers to be given priority testing for COVID-19, amid concerns that one positive case could cause major disruptions to the local force.
The Australian Federal Police Association said officers should be treated like healthcare workers, who can be tested for coronavirus if they report respiratory and fever symptoms.
The general population is only tested if they meet one of six criteria, including that they have returned from overseas with flu-like symptoms or have been in close contact with a confirmed case.
Union president Angela Smith said it was imperative that police officers were able to be tested as soon as they developed symptoms. She said early testing and detection would provide "reassurance" to officers and help to guard against the spread of the virus within the force and wider community.
At Wednesday's press conference, Mr Barr said as there was no evidence of community transmission of coronavirus in Canberra, the "risk to police officers in the community remains low".
He said ACT Policing was already making sure that officers who were sick did not come to work.
If officers did report symptoms and met the testing criteria, ACT Health would prioritise their case, he said.
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