Police to descend on Sydney suburbs in Covid crackdown

·5-min read

From Friday morning, NSW Police will be ramping up their presence in parts of Sydney to enforce the lockdown amid Sydney's latest Covid-19 outbreak.

Speaking on Thursday afternoon, NSWPF Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon announced a "dedicated police operation" starting from 7am on Friday.

The operation will consist of 100 additional police officers in the south-west of Sydney.

"Our work has been solely dedicated on ensuring community safety," Deputy Comm Lanyon said. 

"We have moved across the metropolitan area in order to police areas of concern as they've been raised by (NSW) health."

NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon announced a police operation in Sydney's south-west starting tomorrow to ensure lockdown compliance. Source: NSW Police
NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon announced a police operation in Sydney's south-west starting tomorrow to ensure lockdown compliance. Source: NSW Police

He said officers have made sure to be visible with the community throughout the lockdown to "educate" people about how they should comply with the health orders.

"Clearly, we are still having members of the community who will not comply," he said. 

"Where we haven't been able to achieve compliance, we have enforced those health orders, and whilst obviously we continue to wish to get compliance, we will enforce as necessary."

'You don't need that pair of shoes': Reason needed to leave home

Police will be asking people who are outside their homes what their reasonable excuse is, and will be cracking down on activities like unnecessary shopping.

"You don't need that pair of shoes today," said local commander Assistant Commissioner Tony Cooke.

Asst Comm Cooke said he had been in constant contact with the community leaders and would meet with them again on Thursday afternoon. 

Southwest Sydney is home to many of the city's multicultural communities, however, he said there was no excuse for not complying with restrictions at this point in the pandemic.

"Our multicultural liaison officers have been deployed for weeks now across the community, sending the message, we have paraphernalia in 56 languages distributed to communities," he said.

"This is about us working together to comply with these orders... When we do not get the compliance we will enforce."

NSW Police officers seen wearing a face mask whilst getting into a patrol car in the CBD of Sydney, Thursday, July 8, 2021. NSW has recorded 38 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases overnight, the highest daily number of new cases in 14 months.
A NSW Police officers will be enforcing lockdown compliance in Sydney's south. Source: AAP Image

On Thursday, NSW recorded 38 new locally-acquired Covid-19 cases, taking the total number of cases reported since June 16 this year to 395. The cluster originated in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

Of the new cases reported on Thursday, 21 are from south-western Sydney.

On Thursday, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant singled out several areas of concern, including Bossley Park, Smithfield, Fairfield, Glenfield, West Hoxton, Greenacre, St Johns Park, Bonnyrigg, Bankstown and Roselands.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian was asked on Thursday if she had a message for people in south-west Sydney who feel "unfairly singled out" or "blamed" for the outbreak.

Ms Berejiklian said it was not her intention to single people out, saying it was "really important" for her to tell it how it is.

"Please note that when I say it like it is I don't mean to cause offence, I just need to get the information out," she told reporters.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she did not intend on singling out south-west Sydney amid the latest Covid-19 outbreak in NSW. Source: AAP
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she did not intend on singling out south-west Sydney amid the latest Covid-19 outbreak in NSW. Source: AAP

Police operation 'heavy-handed', epidemiologist says

Not everyone was pleased with the concentrated police operation being announced in Sydney's southwest.

Professor Marylouise McLaws, an epidemiologist for the University of NSW, said she thought the operation was "fairly heavy-handed".

"I think police are often seen by our migrant community as being a group that have a lot of power, and they have a lot of anxiety with them back in their own country, before they became Australian citizens or residents," she told the ABC following the announcement.

"So I think it could be better done using their own community, going out and handing out information, talking to people, and ask them to wear masks, putting flyers under doorways. 

"Because I think that the police are important, but you don't want them to be perceived as aggressive."

Speaking to the Nine Network on Thursday, Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone voiced his concerns about southwest Sydney being unfairly targeted, saying it "isn't a Fairfield problem".

Sydneysiders wait for their appointment time outside a Covid-19 vaccination centre in the Homebush suburb of Sydney on July 7, 2021, as the city extends a coronavirus lockdown for at least another week.
The mayor of Fairfield said he won't tolerate anyone pointing the finger at his community. Source: Getty Images

"I won't take anyone pointing a finger at Fairfield," he said.

On Facebook, Mr Carbone urged people to not mingle and instead isolate and restrict movements to protect families in the area.

"We did it before, we can do it again," he said.

"Let’s keep each other safe Fairfield, we all know what to do."

Dept Comm Lanyon denied the operation was discriminatory at the press conference.

"The virus has shown very clearly that it doesn't discriminate and nor does the NSW Police," he said.

"That is why we are targeting the southwest metropolitan area as of tomorrow, as we have done where other areas of concern have been identified."

Despite singling out the Fairfield area at the press conference, Dr Chant implored everyone in Sydney to be concerned.

"It doesn't mean if you are in a different suburb you don't have to be worried... you are not immune," she said.

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