By ALEC SMART
A massage parlour in central Sydney is the first business in NSW to be closed and fined for violating the new COVID-19 regulations.
On 26 March a police patrol checking businesses were complying with the Public Health Order found the premises, on Sussex Street in the CBD, was still operating, despite government orders to close. Officers issued the owner with a $5,000 fine and three female staff with $1,000 each, the first fines imposed since the coronavirus-limiting regulations were put in place.
Police didn’t reveal which massage parlour was fined, but a search reveals there are at least nine registered massage parlours with Sussex Street addresses, plus a few in side alleys off Sussex Street. These range from Thai massage to saunas to erotic services.
NSW police officers were authorised on 26 March to impose fines of $1,000 to individuals and $5,000 to businesses found breaching public health orders.
Transgressors can also be jailed for six months and/or issued a fine of up to $11,000 if convicted for violating the Public Health Act.
Australia now has more than 3,000 cases of Covid-19. NSW cases have increased, thanks to the recent docking of cruise ships in Sydney Harbour like Ruby Princess when NSW Health were blamed for allowing dozens of covid-19 infected passengers to disembark without testing or quarantine.
19 Australians have now died of the virus, including two passengers from the aforementioned cruise ships.
During her daily 8am media briefing on Fri 27 March, Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that the “State is ready and prepared for a lockdown,” as authorities consider measures to advance the current coronavirus restrictions to ‘level three’ status.
In this stricter scenario, schools will shut, group exercising – such as ‘boot camps’ training in public parks and walking dogs – will be banned, and only critical businesses like petrol stations, pharmacies and supermarkets would be permitted to continue trading; the latter to dissuade people from hoarding foodstuffs and essential items.