Furious Sydneysiders are up in arms over a ‘ridiculous’ lockdown rule that threatens fines of up to $11,000 or six months in jail – just for crossing the road to go shopping.
Three large signs outside Westfield Eastgardens – in the Bayside local government area – warn people from neighbouring Randwick LGA that they are banned from crossing Bunnerong Road to go shopping.
If they do they must isolate for 14 days and risk huge fines – and even time in prison.
On-the-spot fines for breaching public health orders start at $1000 and can reach $11,000 for individuals, and/or up to six months in jail.
This mum took her daughter to Kmart unsure of what the rules are for Bayside’s Westfield Eastgardens. The shopping centre is restricted to Bayside residents as it is in an LGA of concern
‘Randwick residents, crossing LGA border to shop is prohibited including Eastgardens and Southport. Police issuing fines and 14 day isolation order may apply,’ say the messages on the signs
Bayside is one of Sydney’s 12 LGAs of concern, meaning anyone who enters must have a permit to do so from August 28.
Under ‘special police powers’ introduced on Monday, anyone from ‘outside an LGA of concern found to be in an LGA of concern without a reasonable excuse [can] be fined $1000 and required to isolate at home for 14 days.’
Reasonable excuses usually include ‘obtain food or other goods and services’.
But the ominous signs scaring locals across the road from Westfield Eastgardens suggest they can’t even use their local shops.
A man crosses Bunnerong Road on Wednesday, which divides Randwick Council from Bayside, an LGA ‘of concern’. Randwick residents are prohibited from entering Bayside and must self isolate or risk big fines if they do
A woman leaves Bayside’s Westfield Eastgardens on Wednesday, which is out of bounds for many who live across the road in the Randwick council LGA
‘Randwick residents, crossing LGA border to shop is prohibited including Eastgardens and Southport. Police issuing fines and 14 day isolation order may apply,’ say the messages on the signs.
At least three of the trailer-mounted signs were left in surrounding streets by Randwick Council, which refused to comment on them.
Daily Mail Australia spoke to locals complying with the warnings, but also witnessed dozens of people crossing Bunnerong Road to visit or leave Westfield Eastgardens on Wednesday, either unaware of the rules or willing to take the risk.
The Westfield is one of the biggest in NSW and regularly used by shoppers across Sydney’s eastern and south-eastern suburbs.
A woman leaves Westfield Eastgardens – one of NSW’s biggest Westfield’s – with click-and-collect goods on Wednesday (pictured)
Signs in southern Sydney make it clear penalties apply for Randwick residents shopping at Westfield Eastgardens. Fines for breaching public health orders start at $1,000 and go up to $11,000 and/or six months in jail
‘I don’t know if I’m meant to be here, don’t tell anyone,’ Randwick mum Sarah, 36, joked as she dashed to Kmart in the mega-mall to ‘click and collect’ a costume for her four-year-old son.
Sarah, an executive assistant in the fashion industry who didn’t want her real name used, explained she would usually shop in Maroubra.
But the suburb doesn’t have a Kmart and she needed the costume for her son’s book week at day care.
‘I think it’s pretty ridiculous we can’t come here if we take the right precautions,’ she said.
Randwick residents in Sydney are not allowed to cross the road to go shopping at Westfield Eastgardens – with warnings of a 14 day mandatory isolation order
Westfield Eastgardens was open for business – but only for Bayside residents (pictured, a supermarket inside the centre on Wednesday)
‘I feel safer coming here than going to Maroubra, the shops there are packed,’ said Sarah, who brought her six-year-old daughter to the mall in a full-face shield.
Inside the shopping centre, most were masked up and observing social distancing rules as they visited popular stores including Kmart, Aldi, Coles, JB Hifi, Big W as well as ANZ and Commonwealth Banks – and the local Centrelink.
Westfield Eastgardens was an exposure site in late June and is the biggest shopping centre in the Bayside LGA.
Aside from a smattering of customers visiting those outlets, most shops were closed as locals were clearly staying away.
A woman leaves the shopping centre at Bayside’s huge Westfield Eastgardens mega mall (pictured on Wednesday)
A Randwick woman exercising on Wednesday had to avoid the nearby Westfield Eastgardens shopping centre
In three hours inside the mall Daily Mail Australia did not witness a single police or ADF officer to give locals guidance – in sharp contrast to LGAs of concern around Sydney’s south-west.
One woman disappointed to hear the news about the mall being off limits to Randwick residents was aged care worker Susan, 29, who lives 200 metres away.
On Wednesday she was on her 13th day in isolation after a workmate tested positive to Covid and was looking forward to getting out of the house.
‘Oh really?’ she told Daily Mail Australia through her front door when told about the restrictions on her local shops.
‘I’ve had to do online shopping for the last two weeks. I was looking forward to getting out to pick up my fruit, but I’ll have to get it somewhere else.’
Another local, Tim, 55, a gardener, who lives in the same block as Susan, said most locals were aware of the restrictions.
‘I usually go there but I can’t now,’ Tim said.
Instead, he walks 35 minutes to Randwick shops because he doesn’t want to run the risk of using public transport.
Under NSW Health public orders, Randwick residents who even cross Bunnerong Road to enter Bayside council area must self-isolate for 14 days
A shopper is seen leaving the Eastgardens centre on Wednesday (pictured) with only some locals allowed to shop there
‘It’s a bit weird, but it’s OK, we just cop it,’ he said.
Daily Mail Australia approached Randwick Council, which refused to comment.
NSW Health referred Daily Mail Australia to NSW Police.
NSW Police said in a statement: ‘NSW Police continue to conduct compliance operations state-wide.’
What are the fines for breaching NSW public health orders?
In the case of an individual, the maximum penalty is $11,000, or imprisonment for 6 months, or both and a further $5500 penalty may apply for each day the offence continues.
The NSW Police may also issue on-the-spot fines to individuals of:
- $1,000 for breach of a public health order
- $3,000 for participating in an outdoor gathering of more than 2 people
- $500 for failure to comply with a direction to wear or carry a mask for those aged 18 years or older
- $80 for failure to comply with a direction to wear or carry a mask for those aged 16 or 17 years of age
- $40 for failure to comply with a direction to wear or carry a mask for those aged 15 or younger
- $5000 for failure to comply with the obligation to answer questions asked by a contact tracer, provide your name and contact details to a contact tracer, and provide true and accurate information to a contact tracer
- $5000 for failure to comply with obligations to self-isolate if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, including staying at home or in hospital, as determined by a doctor, nurse or paramedic; providing details of contact with other persons and places you have visited; and complying with NSW Health guidelines
- $5000 for failure to comply with obligations to self-isolate if you are a close contact of a person diagnosed with COVID-19, including staying at home up to 14 days, as determined by a doctor, nurse or paramedic; submitting to testing for COVID-19; and complying with NSW Health guidelines.
- Source: NSW Health