Greater Sydney residents are being urged against attending anti-lockdown protests over the weekend, with a threat of $1,000 fines and criminal sanctions.
NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon said police officers have been monitoring the online organisation of protests and are well prepared.
“We have made it very, very clear that people should not go into the city and engage in activity like we saw last week,” he told reporters on Saturday.
“In terms of the scale, it is a large operation. If we don’t see scenes that we saw last week, that is a great outcome for us. Those resources can be used elsewhere.
“Our policing operation has been in place since early this morning. Up to 1,000 police officers, including a range of specialist resources, are on the ground already. So don’t go into the city to protest.”
Last night, a 49-year-old Central Coast man was charged for online incitement related to last Saturday’s anti-lockdown protest.
He is the 85th person to be charged after around 3,500 people attended last weekend’s protest. Over 300 fines have been issued.
Hefty fines for those breaching exclusion zone
NSW Police have set up an exclusion zone around the city from 9am to 3pm on Saturday.
People trying to get to the city and surrounds will find it difficult, after seven taxi and rideshare services received a prohibition notice banning them from taking passengers to the CBD over the six-hour period.
A notice in the Uber app said the orders prohibited transit through the large area, as well as any pick-ups and drop-offs.
“This is likely to cause significant disruption and we advise you to consider alternatives for any essential travel to and from these areas during this period,” it said.
Companies who fail to comply risk a maximum penalty of $500,000, and individuals could be fined up to $100,000, NSW Police say.
The large zone stretches from the Bradfield Highway at Milsons Point north of the Harbour Bridge, to the City West Link at Lilyfield, to South Dowling St near Todman Ave at Zetland, and east to New South Head Rd near Ocean Ave at Edgecliff.
On Friday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian urged protesters to think about their loved ones.
“Can I please warn against anybody taking up illegal activity and protesting,” she said. “Your actions will hurt, forget about the rest of us, but you could be taking the disease home and passing it on to your parents, your siblings, or anybody you might have limited contact with.
“Do not give those you love the most a death sentence.”
Contact tracers still assessing impact of protest
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he was disappointed that a number of NSW Health staff were reportedly at Saturday’s protest.
“Investigations are currently continuing with both health and the police. I understand there was one paramedic and either assistant in nursing or nursing staff; and one other,” he said.
“In a democracy people are entitled to demonstrate legally, but it was not a legal demonstration. It was not approved by police. It has consequences both under public health orders and potentially under the Crimes Act.”
Authorities discovered one individual, who had been turned away by police officers at Central Station on the day of the protest and told to return home, had tested positive for COVID-19 the following day.
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant on Friday said the implications of any super-spreader transmission are highly concerning.
“It just is so thoughtless, inconsiderate and the impact on others so great. And we have no latitude with the Delta strain,” she said.
“If that person would have attended the protest, they would have been infectious… we are working through that issue.
“I just cannot contemplate why people at this point in time would think that gathering together in a space, travelling on public transport from all parts of NSW would be in anyone’s interest at the moment.”
Additional reporting: AAP