Police have beefed up their presence across western Sydney, with officers spotted on horseback and in shopping malls, seeking to ensure residents are abiding by public health orders.
Officers were seen warning and fined residents for observing masks at Centro Bankstown, a central shopping mall in the area, where a local Yorgo barista told me he felt police were exaggerating the rate of non-compliance in the area.
“I’ve seen cops fining people outside Woolworths for not wearing a mask properly.
“I think they are exaggerating it. They seem to target some of the different ethnic groups in the area. I see everyone sticking to the rules, and I think it is exaggerated.”
The feeling of paranoia and fear was evident in the center. A woman told me about the police fining people at a certain entrance, but she didn’t want to give any further details. “Be careful,” she whispered, adjusting her mask.
Another store owner, who asked not to be named, told me he had already seen several officers patrolling the mall.
“They are everywhere.”
A station employee, who also asked not to be named, said the police walked past her booth every 15 minutes in the early morning.
“They do the rounds, but everyone is doing the right thing anyway.
“Since the day the lockdown started, there haven’t been many people without masks, everyone is doing the right thing. And if I see anyone without a mask, I show them a mask and they always take a mask and say ‘I was about to buy a mask!'”
“I think people are aware of the situation, and the sooner we get past that, the better.”