NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has been given powers to tighten rules around the singles bubble and people exercising as part of a COVID-19 crackdown. Meanwhile, the NSW government has begun talks to ease restrictions for people who are fully vaccinated.
Off the back of NSW reporting another 345 new local cases overnight, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has given Fuller powers to lead a renewed crackdown on compliance in Sydney hotspots. The push comes amid increasing reports of people finding loop holes in public health orders, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The new police crackdown will target rules around the singles bubble. Currently, there isn’t any formal process for nominating who is in the bubble, which makes it impossible for police to enforce the rules. The police will also tighten rules around outdoor exercise, targeting people congregating on the beach.
Commissioner Fuller will also request an extra 500 troops from the the Australian Defence Force to patrol Sydney’s worst affected areas, as harsher lockdown restrictions were extended to Bayside, Burwood and Strathfield local government areas.
The changes come as the current army presence in Sydney’s west and south west was condemned online and by local leaders as being heavy handed and “demoralising.”
Military in the streets in Western Sydney? Bloody hell. Great look to a public health crisis in low income over policed, refugee and migrant dominated areas who experience racialised policing daily. Absolutely disgraceful. So over this. Build trust not fear.
— Sarah Malik (@sarahbmalik) July 29, 2021
Cumberland City Council mayor Steve Christou expressed concerns about how military in the streets will affect people in Western Sydney.
“I don’t think people are going to accept it very well – our people are one of the poorest demographics, and as it is, they already feel picked on and marginalised, as if their whole life has been taken away from them,” he told SBS.
“They can’t afford to pay the mortgage, the rent, the food or work. Now to throw out the army to enforce lockdown on the streets is going to be a huge issue to these people.
“It’s demoralising for a lot of people.”
But, in some (kind of) good news, the NSW government has begun talks with the hospitality industry to allow pubs and bars to reopen as early as September — but only for staff and patrons who are fully vaccinated.
Australian Hotels Association boss John Whelan, bars baron Justin Hemmes and pub owner Craig Laundy are leading the charge to allow venues to open “as soon as it is safe”.
However, choosing a date as early as September (which is less than three weeks away!) for when it may be safe for venues to open seems odd considering Gladys Berejiklian previously said NSW should expect things to go back to normal in late October or early November.
“As per the Doherty Institute report, two doses of 70 per cent vaccination [is the target] and NSW, if we had the current pace, we will hit that around the end of October,” Berejiklian said.
“[We will reach] 80 per cent towards the end of November. According to the Doherty report, that is when life gets back to normal, that is when we have a different approach to COVID, when freedoms that we had will be in place and we can look forward to having a normal existence.”
But hey, who am I to complain?
Alternatively, you can triple-check to see if you’re eligible for the Pfizer vaccine here.
The best vaccine is the first one you can get, and that’ll be our ticket out of this mess.