Australia today used helicopters and the army to enforce its ‘Zero Covid’ lockdown, as thousands of police flooded Sydney city centre to enforce the rules and hand out $500 fines for those not wearing a mask.
Sirens blared across the city and a draconian message was broadcast from the skies, as millions were told: ‘This is public health order —do not break rules —you will be found and fines issued.’
Ministers had tried to eliminate all cases through isolation and closed borders, but just 17% of adults have been vaccinated and concerns are now growing over the virus’ growing prevalence across the country.
Today, up to 1,300 police officers swarmed Sydney and set up a network of roadblocks in a massive show of force to avoid a repeat of last week’s violent anti-lockdown protest.
Some 250 fines, each worth $500, were issued across the city today, with one man arrested after travelling on trains outside his local government area without a reasonable excuse.
It comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison had launched a four-stage plan back to freedom but said 80% of adults would have to be vaccinated before the border can begin to open.
Sydney’s five million people are under a strict stay-at-home order because of a worrying surge of nearly 3,000 infections since the middle of June.
Authorities have this week outlined even tighter restrictions for some worst-affected suburbs, including mandatory testing and mask-wearing outdoors.
From Monday, some 300 army personnel will help police go door to door to ensure people who have tested positive are isolating.
New South Wales police commissioner Mick Fuller told a news conference: ‘The sheer volume of increase over the last week, the level of compliance has gone from hundreds into thousands.’
The military personnel will not be armed and will be under police command, he said.
Australia had been praised for its handling of the coronavirus crisis at the start of the pandemic, with just over 34,000 cases and fewer than 1,000 deaths.
But now it is faced with the spread of the much more infectious Indian variant that is proving able to overcome lockdown measures. Many highly vaccinated countries are now re-opening, but Australia is sticking to its Zero Covid strategy while its vaccine drive lags behind the rest of the world.
Sydney’s latest surge of cases has been traced back to an unmasked, unvaccinated airport driver who got infected last month. Since then, Australia’s biggest city has reported 13 deaths.
Meanwhile, up to 1,300 police officers swarmed Sydney today and setup a network of roadblocks around the city in a massive show of force to avoid a repeat of last week’s violent anti-lockdown protest.
Police check the licences and destinations of vehicles entering the CBD at a roadblock in order to prevent an anti-lockdown protest in Sydney
A roadblock is in place as fresh curbs are introduced in Sydney amid rising numbers of infections in the Australian city
Police are promising that more than 1000 officers will be working to ensure Sydney ‘remains free from illegal protest activity’
Police officers check ID cards of people walking in the CBD in order to prevent an anti-lockdown protest in Sydney today
Some 250 fines, each worth $500, were issued across Sydney today, with one man arrested after travelling on trains outside his local government area without a reasonable excuse
NSW Police conduct roadside checks with drivers heading towards the Anzac Bridge on Saturday in Sydney, Australia
Mounted police patrol the CBD in order to prevent an anti-lockdown protest, during lockdown in Sydney, Australia
A general view of the quiet streets in central business district of Sydney earlier today
In the city’s western surburbs angry residents saw police helicopters hovering overhead while blaring sirens and broadcasting: ‘This is public health order —do not break rules —you will be found and fines issued’
Police setup roadblocks and stopped any traffic entering the city to prevent a repeat of last weekend protest (pictured is the Princes Highway blocked at King St, Newtown)
In the city’s western suburbs angry residents saw police helicopters hovering overhead while blaring sirens and broadcasting: ‘This is public health order —do not break rules —you will be found and fines issued.’
With police scattered in seemingly every direction across the Harbour City, only eight arrests were made – a far cry from the chaotic scenes in the CBD seven days ago.
‘This is not the Australia I emigrated to,’ a woman from North Parramatta told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Cannot believe it. Are they checking we are wearing masks in our gardens? Talk about being treated as suspected criminals.’
Lines of patrol cars stretching hundreds of metres were pictured parked on Moore Park Road near the Sydney Cricket Ground as early as 7am on Saturday as police prepared for the operation.
A wide exclusion zone was established stretching from Lilyfield in the inner-west, to Milsons Point on the north shore, Edgecliff in the east and Zetland in the south as police stopped anyone entering the city to ask them their reason for travel.
The police operation follows an announcement police would be cracking down on lockdown rule-breakers from Friday with fines lifted to $500 for not wearing a mask and restriction tightened further for eight LGAs in south-west and Western Sydney.
A line of patrol cars stretching hundreds of metres near the SCG ready for Saturday’s police operation (pictured)
Sydneysiders out for their exercise in Newtown (pictured) were stunned by the show of force with officers stationed on the street and stopping traffic on one of the major roads into the city
Police check the identification of every passenger in vehicles entering Newtown as part of a crackdown to prevent another anti lockdown protest in Sydney on Saturday (pictured)
Police patrol Victoria Park at Glebe as part of a major police operation to crackdown on a planned anti lockdown protest (pictured)
Early on Saturday morning scores of police cars were seen parked on the street at Moore Park in the city’s east (pictured)
The huge police presence sparked a mixed reactions among the public, with most commending the police effort but some saying it was an over-the-top reaction.
‘There’s no protest I don’t know what they think they are ready for,’ one person said.
‘Wow! I agree with the lockdown and agree with using extra measures, but this seems a bit extreme,’ another said.
‘Good on them, backing the police all the way! All the troublemakers from last weekend are back in hiding,’ argued a third.
More than 3,500 people attended the demonstration last week, with officials warning Sydneysiders not to turn up again in the lead up to this weekend.
Police established a command centre at Hyde Park in the centre of the city to direct operations – with foot patrols, mounted police officers and patrol cars flooding the CBD.
Authorities had expected a protest after monitoring online activity, but knew the numbers would not be anywhere near as big as the one that shook Sydney on Saturday seven days ago.
Some 60 protesters have been charged and 200 people fined over last Saturday’s demonstration.
A massive police operation is underway in Sydney in anticipation of a second weekend of anti-lockdown rallies in Sydney’s CBD (pictured at Circular Quay)
Police expect a protest after monitoring online activity, but believe it will not be in the same numbers as the one that shook Sydney on Saturday seven days ago
Police have set up checkpoints entering area of Sydney as they look to stop people flocking to the city for another protest
NSW Police set up an exclusion zone around the city from Saturday morning after intelligence showed another protest was being planned
More than 3,500 people attended the demonstration last week, with officials warning Sydneysiders not to turn up again this weekend
Soldiers were brought in to assist the coronavirus response last year (pictured, in Avalon in September 2020) and will be going door to door in Sydney from Monday
Soldiers were brought in to assist the coronavirus response last year (pictured, in Avalon in September 2020), and will be going door to door in Sydney from Monday
There were as many as 80 officers at Town Hall station as they look to stop anyone travelling into the city, particularly from Sydney’s west and south-western suburbs.
Another large police presence was stationed at Hyde Park, with dozens more officers combing the CBD checking license plates of cars and what people are doing.
The state’s deputy commissioner Mal Lanyon told the Today show: ‘Quite simply, the message is to stay at home’.
‘The intent of the public health order is very clear, and that is to restrict movement and gathering to stop the spread of this virus.
‘There will be a significant police presence today, which will ensure compliance with the public health orders.
‘If you wish to come into town for the purpose of a protest, we will take appropriate action. Whether that’s by infringement notice or you may be arrested and charged, don’t come into town for that purpose.’
He added in the states Saturday morning coronavirus press conference that enforcement were ready for anyone thinking of congregating in Sydney to protest.
A roadblock in Newton on Saturday as authorities established an exclusion zone around the city (pictured)
A police command centre was run from Hyde Park in the CBD (pictured)
‘I began by sending one final message to anyone who is attending to go into the city to engage in protest liberty. Do not do it,’ he said.
‘Our policing operation has been in place since early this morning up to 1000 police officers including a range of specialist resources on the ground already so don’t go into the city to protest.
Strikeforce season investigators have been in continuing investigations into the events of last week’s protests with 85 people charged to this date. Over 300 infringement notices have been issued and last night a 49-year-old man from the Central Coast was charged with criminal offences relating to the incitement of last week’s protest online.
Officers among the thousand deployed across the city to deter any anti-lockdown protest
A police road block on the Bradfield Highway to check cars as they approach the Harbour Bridge in the suburb of Artarmon on July 31 (pictured)
‘In terms of the wider compliance operation, the last 24 hours, 384 infringements have been issued, 41 persons charged with the offences related to breaches of public health orders.
‘Police responded to almost 1500 Covid-related jobs, 885 of those were CrimeStoppers calls. Our compliance operation will be ongoing and we have spoken over the last few days about it being ramped up considerably.
Taxi, rideshare and passenger services are prohibited from conveying passengers to Sydney’s CBD between 9am and 3pm today (Saturday 31 July 2021), under a prohibition notice issued by NSW Police.
The notice was issued to seven transport providers in response to planned unlawful protest activity at risk of seriously comprising the public’s safety.
Taxi and rideshare companies face fines of up to half a million dollars if they take passengers into Sydney’s CBD.
A large police presence is stationed at Hyde Park, with dozens more officers combing the CBD checking license plates of cars and what people are doing.
The CBD is currently empty with police stopping unauthorised people from entering with a massive presence throughout
Police have issued a prohibition notice to seven taxi and rideshare services banning them from taking passengers to the CBD over the six-hour period
Kristian Pulkownik, 33, allegedly struck NSW Police horse Tobruk in the nose as his rider was managing thousands of protesters who marched in the city’s CBD last week
SYDNEY ANTI-LOCKDOWN POLICE BOUNDARY LIMITS
• Western boundary – West Link Road and The Crescent at Lilyfield
• Southern boundary – South Dowling Street and Todman Avenue at Zetland
• Northern boundary – Bradfield Highway at Milsons Point
• Eastern boundary – New South Head Road and Ocean Avenue at Edgecliff
Companies who fail to comply with the notice risk a maximum penalty of $500,000, and individuals could be fined up to $100,000, NSW Police say.
Central Metropolitan Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Peter Thurtell, said more than 1000 officers will be ensuring Greater Sydney remains free from illegal protest activity.
‘A pandemic is not the time to protest and this prohibition notice is just one of the tools police have implemented today to ensure the safety of the community,’ Assistant Commissioner Thurtell said.
‘These restrictions have been put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19 and protect those most vulnerable in our communities from harm.
‘Essential workers, or anyone that requires medical treatment, will be able to make their way to their destinations.
‘I’d like to thank the affected transport companies in advance for their compliance.
More than 300 ADF soldiers will meanwhile be deployed across Greater Sydney from Monday to help police enforce the lockdown, which was been extended for four weeks until at least August 28.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has urged all adults to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
A new, walk-in AstraZeneca vaccination clinic at Bankstown Sports Club opens for its first full day on Saturday.
Taxi and rideshare companies face fines of up to half a million dollars if they take passengers into Sydney’s CBD
There are checkpoints at four entry points into the city with police ensuring unauthorised people are not entering central Sydney
Mounted officers are in force again in Sydney’s CBD despite last weekend’s horrific scenes that saw several people assaulting horses
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian vowed those who gathered for the illegal demonstration would face ‘the full force of the law’
Police have set up strict limits surrounding the city’s CBD to stop people entering the city for another anti-lockdown rally
A policeman was covered in ink by frenzied activists chanting anti-vax slogans at Sydney’s disgraceful protests last weekend
There were wild scenes in protests across the Sydney CBD on Saturday afternoon, prompting Gladys Berejiklian to vow the activists would face ‘the full force of the law’
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller on Friday warned would-be protesters they would be met by a police force up to 1000 strong
Police await anyone entering Sydney via ferry on Saturday in fears of another shameful protest
NSW Police Minister David Elliott labelled those in the rallies as ‘boofheads’ and said 90 had been fined across the state with many more arrests expected.
‘What we saw today was 3,500 very selfish boofheads – people that thought the law didn’t apply to them,’ he said.
‘If we don’t see a [Covid] spike in the areas these protesters came from in the next week I’ll be very, very surprised.
‘It was just a whole lot of halfwits. There is no doubt in my mind that at least one individual there today had Covid, it is statistically impossible for us not to consider that.’
Officers patrol George Street in Sydney on Saturday in anticipation of another anti-lockdown rally (pictured)
Police check drivers on Enmore Road as part of the enforcement of Public Health orders on Saturday in Sydney- (pictured)
Mounted police officers patrol the Sydney CBD on Saturday (pictured)
New South Wales has recorded 210 locally acquired Covid cases overnight with at least 33 in the community while infectious.
Speaking during Saturday’s NSW update Health Minister Brad Hazzard said by far the majority of cases were located in south-west and Western Sydney.
The city’s south-west accounted for a mammoth 81 positive cases in the last 24 hours, while 72 cases were acquired in Western Sydney.
Ma Hazzard repeated calls for locals not to visit other households saying this was how a large portion of cases were being transmitted.
Police talk to members of the public in George Street (pictured) in preparation for an anti-lockdown rally in Sydney on Saturday
Police horse Tobruk (pictured) on Saturday in Sydney, Australia. The horse was involved in an alleged incident of animal cruelty, for which a protestor has been charged, during a violent anti-lockdown protest in the Sydney CBD on the 24th of July