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NSW Police’s $1,000 warning to anti-lockdown protestors

Image of police on horses; NSW Police deputy commissioner Mick Willing
More than 1,000 NSW Police are in Sydney's CBD in anticipation of the anti-lockdown protests. (Source: AAP)

NSW Police is issuing a very simple instruction to anyone heading into Sydney’s CBD to protest the lockdown, which has been extended until the end of August.

“I began by sending one final message to anyone who is intending to go into the city to engage in protest activity,” said NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Mick Willing.

“Do not do it.”

Individuals found breaching public health orders can be issued on-the-spot fines of $1,000.

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Willing warned that around 1,000 police officers have been in place around Sydney’s CBD since the early morning as part of the state’s policing operation.

Last weekend’s anti-lockdown protests saw 300 infringement notices issued and 85 people charged. ‘TikTok guy’ Jon-Bernard Kairouz, who was seen giving a speech to demonstrators, was also fined $1,000.

More broadly, 384 infringements have been issued and 41 people charged for flouting public health orders in the last 24 hours, Willing said.

In response to the planned protest, NSW Police have set up an exclusion zone in Sydney’s CBD to prevent them from going ahead this weekend, but Willing warned that police were prepared to move if the protest moved elsewhere.

“You engage in illegal activity, you may well be charged with criminal offences as well.”

Willing said police were not apologising for the “large” and “significant” police operation.

“We’ve made it very, very clear that people should not go into the city and engage in activity like we saw last week,” he said.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 01: NSW Police Assistant Commissioner, Mick Willing speaks during a press conference at the Sydney Opera House forecourt on January 01, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. There had been calls to cancel the annual New Year's Eve fireworks display due to ongoing bushfires across NSW, but event organisers went ahead following approval from the Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.  (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)
NSW Police Assistant Commissioner, Mick Willing. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

Seven taxi and rideshare services have received prohibition notices banning drivers from taking passengers into the CBD.

"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," the Uber app notice said.

Here’s how much anti-lockdown protests can be fined.

Breaching public health orders: $1,000

NSW Police can issue $1,000 on-the-spot fines to individuals found breaching public health orders.

This figure is reduced for minors.

“Breach of orders made under the Public Health Act 2010 is a criminal offence and attracts heavy penalties,” NSW Government’s website states.

But if an individual is found repeatedly breaching orders, further $5,500 penalties can apply for each day the offence continues.

Spitting on public officials, workers: $5,000

Anyone caught intentionally spitting or coughing on public officials or any workers while they’re at work, or travelling to or from work, may cop a hefty $5,000 fine.

Penalties apply to people doing this “​​in a way that would reasonably be likely to cause fear about the spread of COVID-19,” according to the NSW Government.

These fines come amid revelations that one in five retail workers have been coughed or spat on since the COVID-19 outbreak began.

No mask: $500 fines

NSW residents caught leaving the house without a mask can be fined $500.

The new figure increased as of Thursday, and is more than double the previous amount of $200, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced earlier this week.

“State-wide, it’s clear when you need to wear a mask and if you don’t, you will be penalised and they’ll go up from $200 to $500 to allow that extra level of and that extra layer of deterrence,” Berejiklian said.

Could NSW fines be increased?

That’s certainly what the NSW Opposition wants.

NSW Labor wants penalties to the tune of $11,000 for anyone sharing information on social media about illegal rallies, and encouraging others to attend.

Organisers of these protests should cop $20,000 fines, the party believes.

NSW Labor is also pushing for protest attendees to face $5,500 fines, instead of the current $1,000.

“We should throw the book at these idiots who spread misinformation and lies along with the Delta variant,” said Shadow Police Minister Walt Secord.

How to report anti-lockdown protestors to Crime Stoppers

NSW Government and state police have been united in calling for people to dob in protestors to Crime Stoppers.

Crime Stoppers has already received more than 15,000 calls ahead of today’s anti-lockdown protests.

People can make confidential calls to Crime Stoppers at 1800 33 000 or online through the Crime Stoppers website.

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