St George Police Area Command praise mask compliance

St George Police Area Commander, Superintendent Tony Cooke, said police in the command were issuing warnings over fines in a bid to increase face mask compliance.

During an interview with the Leader earlier this week, Superintendent Cooke said shopkeepers and the public had taken up the mask mandate, with no major problems so far.

"We are finding a good level of compliance," he said.

"We have not had to, at this stage, issue any infringement notices.

"I know we have engaged with a number of people and reminded them [to wear a mask] and that is the approach we will continue. Compliance is what we are after."

Superintendent Cooke said police were "working with the community" across St George to encourage the use of face masks as was required by law and while fines were an option "where we can, we will issue warnings".

"The most important thing is compliance," he said.

Superintendent Cooke said police in the command had embraced adding mask compliance to their duties as a way to protect the community from further outbreaks of COVID-19 and the possibility of a lockdown, which would hurt local businesses.

"This is just part of the job now and we will continue to do what we have to do to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 in the community," Superintendent Cooke said.

He said protecting the community from COVID-19 was not just about protecting people's health but the livelihood of local businesses, and the majority of people were doing the right thing.

The NSW Government announced face masks would be mandatory in certain premises in Greater Sydney, Wollongong, Central Coast and Blue Mountains from January 3, with fines in place from January 4.

According to the Public Health (COVID-19 Mandatory Face Coverings) Order 2021, a person must wear a fitted face covering at all times in an indoor area of retail or business premises that provides goods or services, including supermarkets, shopping centres, bank branches, post offices, hairdressing salons, nail salons, beauty salons, tanning salons, waxing salons, spas, tattoo parlours, massage parlours, betting agencies, including gaming lounges, entertainment facilities, places of worship and residential aged care facilities.

Face coverings must also be worn on public transport and in waiting areas, including taxi and ride-share services.

Anyone working at a hospitality venue that deals directly with members of the public must wear a fitted face mask at all times.

Children aged 12 and under or anyone with a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability is exempt.

Face coverings can be removed if a person is eating or drinking, is communicating with another person who is deaf or hard of hearing, or in some other circumstances, such as health and safety, to ascertain a person's identity, or to allow a facial or beard trim. Face covering must be worn as soon as practicable after the circumstance ends.

Anyone with information regarding individuals or businesses in contravention of COVID-19-related ministerial directions should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or click here.

Details: To view the Public Health Order click here.