NSW Police Minister ‘stunned’ by illegal church gathering

Christ Embassy, Blacktown, NSWNSW Police Minister David Elliott says he was “quite stunned” to hear dozens of people had gathered at a church in Blacktown last night, in breach of the public health orders. Thirty adults were fined $1000 after police say they participated in a sermon at Christ Embassy Sydney, which itself was fined $5000. “The vast majority of the churches are doing exactly the right thing and I don’t understand, if cathedrals can stream online their services, I don’t know why suburban churches in Blacktown can’t,” Mr Elliott told radio station 2GB.

He said everybody has had to make sacrifices under lockdown restrictions and we would “all prefer to spend our Sunday afternoons with extended family and friends”.

“[If] you think you’re going to be excluded from obeying the law based on the fact that you have one tradition over another, well, it just doesn’t wash with the community. It’s certainly not going to wash with police.”

Blacktown is in the Western Sydney Local Health District, which recorded 317 of NSW’s 830 new, locally acquired COVID-19 cases on Sunday.

Mr Elliott was also asked about the new statewide outdoor face mask mandate given NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian previously conceded there was “no strong evidence about outdoor transmission” of COVID-19.

“I don’t understand it either because I’m not a clinician … but the clinicians and the medical practitioners tell us it’s a mitigating factor, it will reduce the risk,” he said.

Mr Elliott said he has his “eye on the prize” to reach the 70 and 80 per cent double dose vaccination targets, which are expected to lead to greater freedoms.

“I know we’re getting there at a rate of knots at the moment … I’m happy to do whatever the clinicians recommend we do so that we can get out of this as quickly as possible.

“Then I’m going to have a ceremonial burning of the masks in my backyard.”


NSW Police at the Christ Embassy, Blacktown
NSW Police at the Christ Embassy, Blacktown

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