Police in New South Wales were given carte blanche on Thursday to enforce sweeping Covid-19 lockdown measures in eight areas of the nation’s most populous city, which are home to some two million people. Under the new rule, officers will have the right to shut down businesses, workplaces, construction sites, and public spaces deemed to be in violation of the coronavirus restrictions.
Those living in the eight areas, designated as “local government areas of concern,” will have to wear a mask “at all times”on leaving their place of residence, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday.
Freedom of movement is also severely restricted. Barring “exceptional circumstances,” residents are banned from traveling more than five kilometers (three miles) from their home. Neither shopping nor working out count as exceptions.
As residents brace themselves for the crackdown, thousands of officers were deployed across the area to monitor compliance, according to Commissioner of the New South Wales Police Force Mick Fuller. “So, you can expect to see more police on the ground. You can expect to see more enforcement. We have been in this [situation] now for a number of weeks,” Fuller said.
Those spotted without a mask will now have to cough up $500 – an increase on the previous $200 fine.