One thousand police are on standby to break up any repeat of last weekend’s protest in Sydney, while soldiers could be on the ground as soon as Monday to help enforce the city’s lockdown.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller revealed on Thursday that he had asked Prime Minister Scott Morrison to send 300 Australian Defence Force personnel to Sydney to enforce the NSW government’s strict public health orders, following concern that too many people were failing to comply with the rules.
“From a boots perspective, [the army] will not hit the ground until late-Monday to Tuesday,” he said.
Commissioner Fuller said the Australian Defence Force personnel would focus on contact tracing throughout Greater Sydney, not just in the eight local government “areas of concern”.
“So you can expect to see them in the Shire or the Northern Beaches or the eastern suburbs,” he said.
“Yes, the sum of contact tracing at the moment is around the eight LGA’s [in western Sydney]…but you could expect to see…military right across greater metro Sydney.”
Mr Fuller said all close contacts should expect to receive a visit from the police. A compliance check this morning uncovered one instance of a man leaving his house to work on a building site, despite knowing he was infected with COVID-19.
Commissioner Fuller confirmed it was not mandatory for the police or members of the army to be vaccinated, but said they would wear personal protective equipment when visiting a person’s home.
“Like everyone, we are trying to get our entire workforce vaccinated,” he said.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian again urged Sydneysiders to follow the health orders, after NSW reported 170 new locally acquired coronavirus cases on Friday, down from the record high of 239 cases recorded one day prior.
The source of 93 of the new cases – more than half of the caseload – was under investigation, according to NSW Health.
Ms Berejiklian said the decline in case numbers on Friday was not necessarily a sign that the situation in Sydney was improving.
She said there were still cases of transmission in workplaces and households “and given the numbers of infectious people in the community, we are expecting to see those numbers bounce around.”