Australia is punishing unvaccinated people who cough or sneeze in public with fines and jail time.
Social media users are circulating a claim that if you are unvaccinated and cough or sneeze in public you will be fined or jailed in Queensland, Australia. Users alleged that you could be fined up to $13000 or six months in prison. The claim was mostly shared verbatim by Twitter users and expressed shock and outrage.
The claim was found to be false after an investigation by Misbar. A review of Queensland's government statements and directives revealed that anyone found spitting, coughing, or sneezing on someone else intentionally would be fined or imprisoned regardless of vaccination status. The Minister for Trade and the Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services released a joint statement in April 2020 of their intention following an increase in reports of deliberate coughing or sneezing, particularly on public officials and workers. This led to the release of Direction (No. 3), Protecting Public Officials and Workers (Spitting, Coughing and Sneezing), which detailed the new law.
However, in none of the publications does the directive differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. The ruling applies to everyone regardless of vaccination status. Furthermore, it is not a fine for merely sneezing or coughing but for those who deliberately and intentionally do so on someone else.
Given the findings, the Misbar team confirms the claim is misleading and attempts to spread misinformation. The ruling is for anyone caught deliberately sneezing or coughing, not only those unvaccinated.