NSW’s police minister says a group of northern beaches locals who blatantly breached lockdown rules to attend a wedding reception committed a “bastard act”.
Twelve people aged between 19 and 63 were fined after going to the reception in inner-city Pyrmont on Sunday, despite the orders put in place after a coronavirus cluster was found in their local area.
“It’s just a bastard act,” David Elliott told Nine’s Today Show on Tuesday.
“You have been living in an area where there has been a cluster … and now everyone at that wedding has to worry if they have been exposed to COVID-19.”
The minister warned police can fine or jail people who breach the rules and pointed to a number of “disgraceful acts” of “blatant disregard” for health orders over the Christmas holiday period.
Meanwhile, the federal government is looking at whether it can deport any of the people who participated in a large party at Bronte on Christmas Day.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke says he was shocked at the scenes.
Some are believed to be backpackers who remained in Australia during the coronavirus pandemic or expatriates mostly from the UK.
“Absolutely under the Migration Act if someone is threatening public safety or health their visa can be cancelled or revoked. Certainly the federal government is looking at that issue,” he told radio 2GB on Tuesday that.
The Department of Home Affairs will work with NSW authorities ahead of New Year’s Day to make sure people are doing the right thing, he says.
“We’re very happy to deport people if people are flagrantly disobeying public health orders.”
Sydneysiders have been mostly banned from watching the famous New Year’s Eve fireworks after the city’s harbour foreshores shut down for the first time.
This includes the government’s plan to host frontline COVID-19 workers, including health workers and teachers, on the eastern foreshore on Thursday night.
The state government is telling people to stay at home and watch the shortened seven-minute show at midnight to usher in 2021 on television.
The northern beaches will kick off 2021 at home after NSW authorities extended stay-at-home orders.
However, small indoor gatherings on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day will be allowed.
Overnight on Tuesday, NSW Health issued alerts for a number of venues in the Sydney CBD and Edgecliff and Bondi Beach in the eastern suburbs and a number of related bus and train routes.
Anyone who on December 20 went to Woolworths Metro at Bondi Beach, Coles in Edgecliff and Kinokuniya Books, David Jones or Uniqlo in the city is now considered a “casual contact” of an infected person and should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested if they appear.
NSW recorded five new local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday. Four are connected to the Avalon cluster which now totals 126 cases.
The fifth is linked to a previously reported case on the northern beaches whose source of infection remains under investigation.
The government says stay-at-home orders applying to northern beaches residents north of the Narrabeen Bridge will continue until at least January 9, while a lockdown for the peninsula’s southern zone will remain in place until January 2.
“Whilst we’re seeing the trends go the way we hope they do, there are still too many concerning aspects … of not really being able to identify what we call the intermediaries, those unlinked cases,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Monday.
Restrictions for Greater Sydney and regional NSW remain largely unchanged for New Year’s Eve – barring the restrictions around the harbour – but outdoor gatherings in Greater Sydney have been tightened to a maximum of 50 people, down from 100.