The time for warnings is over when it comes to following COVID-19 regulations, New England Police District commander has said.
His hard stance comes after a licensed premises was slapped with a $5000 fine after police found them in breach of health and safety protocols.
New England police were tipped off that a large group of people were trying to make a booking at a licensed premises in Armidale on Friday.
A group of 40 people were found flouting the four square metre and social distancing rules within the building.
They were in a room which should have held only 10 people.
Officers carried out "extensive investigations" before making their move, fining the business for non-compliance.
New England Police District Superintendent Scott Tanner said it's believed the group were gathered together for a wake.
"What we saw on Friday was just a blatant disregard for those risks, not only for putting the people at that hotel in jeopardy, they are also putting the wider community in jeopardy," he said.
"Regardless of the circumstances of their get together, whether it be a celebration or a commiseration of someone passing - it doesn't matter.
"We've all had relatives, friends, who have passed away or have been trying to get married who haven't bee able to attend these functions. We have to all pull together in the right direction."
Since restrictions were implemented by the government, officers right across the district have issued numerous warnings, working with licensed premises to ensure their COVID safety plans were in place.
He condemned the attitude of complacency creeping into the region, saying we ran the risk of another outbreak, as seen in Victoria and now parts of Sydney.
"There has been plenty of warnings give out by police right across the whole New England Police District," he stated.
"[T]he time now is for people to take responsibility ... The time for warnings is over."
While no individuals from the group have had any disciplinary action taken against them, Supt. Tanner said officers would be conducting investigations, with dire consequences in store for any found to be breaching public health orders.
"Police will be talking with a number of members of that group, firstly reinforcing the risk they put that licensed premises at, as well as the rest of their group and the rest of the community.
"And if we do find that they've breached social distancing or public health orders, we will be taking action."