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NSW Police deploys 1,500 officers to crack down on anti-lockdown protest

Police will station some 1,500 officers around the CBD on Saturday to ensure a planned anti-lockdown protest does not occur.

“The transmission of the delta strain of COVID-19 presents a clear and present threat to the community. Now is not the time to gather in groups in protest,” Assistant Commissioner Peter Thurtell said.

Police have put in place a ban on transport passenger services from delivering people into Sydney’s CBD from 9am and 3pm.

Seven taxi, rideshare and passenger services were issued with the prohibition notice to pre-empt any protest activity.

Essential workers and those requiring medical treatment will still be able to reach their destination.

The alleged organiser of the proposed anti-lockdown protest in central Sydney this weekend has been sentenced to at least three months’ jail for failing to comply with NSW public health orders.

NSW is readying for a raft of new COVID-19 rules to become mandatory on Monday as the premier pleads with Sydney residents to “bunker down” for at least another six weeks.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced stay-at-home orders will now apply in Sydney until at least September 30 while a dozen hotspot local government areas will face harsher rules, including a curfew from 9pm to 5am.

“It is time for all of us to bunker down and take this as seriously as we can,” the premier said on Friday.

The state reported 642 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 – the third consecutive day daily infections have exceeded 600 – and four deaths on Friday.

From Monday, mask-wearing will be mandatory for all people in NSW when outdoors, except when exercising.

Residents in those council areas in the city’s west and southwest are from Monday limited to one hour of outdoor exercise per day.

Committee for Sydney CEO Gabriel Metcalf said the committee had “grave concerns” that people in public spaces outdoors were being over-policed.

“To date, we are not aware of any evidence of significant transmission of COVID in outdoor spaces,” Mr Metcalf said.

NSW Police have been given greater powers to enforce compliance including the ability to lock down apartment blocks while NSW Health assesses COVID-19 risk – before anyone even tests positive.

People who enter LGAs of concern without a reasonable excuse will face fines of $1000 and an order to isolate at home for two weeks.

Hardware stores like Bunnings, office supply stores and other retail premises must close in those 12 areas except for click-and-collect, and all exams and education activities must move online, except the HSC.

A permit system will from Saturday also come into force for people travelling between Greater Sydney and regional NSW, which is in lockdown until at least August 28.

NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns said COVID-19 does not “respect lines on a map” and people were doing their best to comply with an ever expanding and confusing set of health orders.

“Since this lockdown started up until now, there have been 39 sets of changes to health orders and there are currently 39 pages of public health orders,” he said.

“Let’s get a clear and simple message from the NSW government and that should include what is the objective of the three month lockdown if, as the premier insists COVID zero is now no longer possible.”

COVID-19 vaccinations for all NSW healthcare workers will be mandated by the end of next month, and for childcare workers and disability support workers in the council areas of concern by August 30.