Australia’s New South Wales Cops Prepare Lockdown Compliance Blitz
SYDNEY — Police will hand out on-the-spot fines to Sydneysiders caught breaching Covid-19 restrictions as the outbreak in the city grows to 65 and millions of people head into lockdown.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian issued the stay-at-home orders on June 25 morning after the state recorded another 22 new local cases of Covid-19.
New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard warned police would be quick to hand out fines if necessary.
“Whilst we can’t make laws against stupidity, we can remind individuals who are not compliant … that there are substantial penalties,” he told reporters on June 25.
Hazzard tweeted “Note in Waverley, Woollahra, City of Sydney & Randwick Local Government Areas, despite Covid related travel restrictions on leaving home, retail, weddings, funerals, community sport can continue. Other non-essential businesses & other services in houses of Worship will cease.”
The lockdown, which will come into force from midnight and last seven days, applies to people who live or work in the Woollahra, Waverley, Randwick and City of Sydney council areas.
New South Wales Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys warned police were already on high alert and issued seven infringement notices overnight to people who were caught breaking mask-wearing rules.
Highway patrol officers are also stopping cars and checking licenses to ensure people aren’t breaching travel restrictions over the school holidays.
“It doesn’t mean that there will be roadblocks … (but) police will continue to be vigilant on our transport system, on our roadways, in shopping centers, hotels and clubs,” he told reporters
“The mask-wearing (incurs a) AU$200 ($151.87) on-the-spot fine, breaching public health orders is AU$1000 ($759.33), and, of course, people can be put before the court if they continue or persist in those offenses.”
Liquor & Gaming New South Wales inspectors will also visit Sydney hospitality venues over the weekend to check businesses are complying with public health orders.
Hazzard also announced that guidelines around mask wearing for drivers of aircrew would be beefed up in the wake of the outbreak which health authorities say was sparked by a limo driver.
The maximum penalty will be six months imprisonment and/or a penalty of AU$11,000 ($8,352.19).
Police are investigating whether the driver, who was not vaccinated and reportedly also not wearing a mask while at work, broke any public health orders.
Worboys on June 25 said WorkSafe had been brought into the investigation and a senior counsel had been engaged to determine if offenses were committed.
Both the health minister and the premier defended not having an order in place already, given the risk posed by international travel.
Most people used common sense and complied, they said.
“We’re not ever going to pretend that what we have in place is enough or what we have in place is perfect — far from it,” Berejiklian said.
“But what is really important is that if we do find a situation we need to fix … we’re not afraid to do that.”
Hazzard also denied media reports the driver was not vaccinated because he was concerned about the blood-clot risk of the AstraZeneca jab.
“(He) would have been able to have the Pfizer vaccine because that’s what has been available for those who work in the quarantine system,” he said.
(Edited by Vaibhav Pawar and Praveen Pramod Tewari. Map by Urvashi Makwana)