A group of people protesting newly introduced NSW mandatory mask rules marched through a shopping centre in Sydney’s eastern suburbs Sunday chanting about their defiance.
The protest occurred on the same day NSW announced eight new locally acquired cases of coronavirus, with an updated health alert issued for those who visited a BWS in Berala, believed to be the source of a new cluster.
Video was posted to social media showing about 50 people walking through Bondi Junction Westfield on Sunday afternoon beating drums and singing loudly through microphones without wearing masks.
"I would rather be a human than a slave" and "You can stick your sanitiser up your a**," the protestors could be heard singing, followed by screaming and cheering.
“Here we go! #COVIDIOTS and anti-maskers protesting in Bondi Westfield… Some of us have vulnerable family members and can see what's happened overseas, some of us want to get back to normal... Selfish w**kers!” one Twitter user posted along with footage of the demonstrators.
Sunday was the first day those in NSW were required to wear masks in certain indoor situations, such as shopping centres, with fines of up to $200 for non compliance to start from Monday.
Protest organiser touts different ‘belief systems’
Kurt Alchemy who led the group beating a drum told The Sydney Morning Herald he felt masks and the use of hand sanitiser were unhealthy.
"We feel like we have the right to wear a mask or not wear a mask depending on our belief systems," he said.
Kim Lec, a protester from Bellevue Hill told the publication she was marching for her “personal freedom”.
While Paulette Meath from Sylvania claimed mandatory masks was an abuse of her human rights.
“We need people to realise this isn’t normal,” she said.
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge tweeted video of the protest, explaining scenes like those in Bondi Junction would actually convince people to comply with the mandatory mask rule.
“A great way to convince people to wear masks is for the government to make them free for those in need, another is to check out the right wing religious fringe who oppose mask wearing,” he wrote.
‘Do it for your family’
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant made a passionate plea on Sunday, urging those to wear a mask to help themselves and their community.
“Wear masks in compliance with the law but do it for yourself, do it for your family, do it for your community, that's the main reason because in wearing a mask you will be keeping yourself, but also your locals, your families, your community, and, of course, possibly eventually the whole of NSW safe,” she said.
Acting NSW Police Commissioner Mal Lanyon confirmed police would be issuing fines for those who refuse to wear a mask when required from Monday but he insisted fines would be a “last resort”.
“I ask that you show some compassion for other workers who are in these particular industries that are now subject to the health order. I have no doubt that some members of the community will be asked to put a mask on when they're either on transport or in a store. Can I ask that you do and don't take offence,” he said
“It's the only way we're going to get on top of this virus is to comply.”
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