‘Hellbent on scapegoats’: Sydney mayor slams lockdown divide

·2-min read

A mayor in Sydney’s west has criticised the NSW government for allowing some local government areas to ease restrictions.

Restrictions eased on Monday for fully-vaccinated residents living outside of the 12 LGAs of concern with up to five able to gather outdoors for a picnic or recreation.

But in the 12 LGAs of concern, vaccinated households can only gather outside for two hours. They are also still subject to a curfew.

Canterbury-Bankstown mayor Khal Asfour, which is one of the LGAs of concern, told the Sydney Morning Herald patience in his area “is starting to wear thin”.

Police officers talk to a man for not wearing a mask at Strathfield station in Sydney, Australia.
Police speak to a man outside Strathfield station. Source: Getty Images

Cr Asfour added residents feel "isolated and let down by a government hellbent on looking for scapegoats".

The 12 LGAs of concern are: Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Strathfield, and some suburbs of Penrith.

Even before the restrictions eased on Monday outside of LGAs of concern, people were seen enjoying the sun and the surf at Bondi Beach on the weekend.

"Beaches are open but our pools are shut. Under the current health orders council pools are NOT allowed to open," Cr Asfour wrote on Facebook.

"I will attempt to ask the premier about pools reopening during my meeting with her," he said.

Sunbakers gather on Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia.
People gather at Bondi Beach on Sunday. Source: Getty Images

President of the Lebanese Muslim Association Samier Dandan said the "empty rhetoric of togetherness" was evident last weekend.

"While clear non-compliance in Bondi and the beaches across Sydney were met with respectful conversations, non-compliance in Bankstown was treated with heavy-handed policing and paramedics," he said in a statement.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will meet with leaders from the 12 LGAs on Tuesday.

It’s believed some of the conversations will include reopening swimming pools and re-defining hotspots from LGAs to suburbs.

People gather to picnic at Centennial Park in Sydney, Australia.
People picnic in Centennial Park on Monday. Source: Getty Images

Infectious diseases expert Professor Peter Collignon, from the Australian National University, told The Today show on Tuesday reopening pools in the area should be safe as long as there are actions taken to limit the risk of transmission.

“Providing you can keep your distance from non-family groups, you don't intermingle too much, you're not cheek to jowl, there has got to be crowd control,” he said.

“I would think you would want to open more things outdoors.”

Professor Collignon said there is a risk of transmitting Covid outdoors but it is about 50 times lower than indoors.

with AAP

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