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More than 250 PINs, eight arrests as police lock Sydney residents out of CBD amid protest fears

As large numbers of police, including mounted police, gathered in the city and surrounds, a large police operation closed lanes of major roads into the city to stop the flow of traffic – and more than 70,000 vehicles were checked.

Police patrol Hyde Park on Saturday, to enforce an exclusion zone in place in the CBD.

Police patrol Hyde Park on Saturday, to enforce an exclusion zone in place in the CBD.Credit:Nick Moir

The exclusion zone boundaries were set up on the City West Link at Lilyfield, South Dowling Street at Zetland, New South Head Road at Edgecliff and the Bradfield Highway at Milsons Point.

Lanes were closed city-bound on Parramatta Road in Annandale, Southern Cross Drive at Zetland, the Pacific Highway and Gore Hill Freeway at Artarmon, Victoria Road at Rozelle, the Sydney Harbour Tunnel in both directions, the City West Link at Lilyfield, Enmore Road at Enmore, the Princes Highway at St Peters, and Oxford St at Paddington.

The measures were put in place to prevent a repeat of the violent protests on July 24, during which thousands of people took to the streets to protest the current public health measures, holding signs and chanting slogans. In tense moments, had police clashed with demonstrators and mounted police were pelted with pot plants and other projectiles.

Police interact with demonstrators during an anti-lockdown protest in Sydney’s CBD on July 24.

Police interact with demonstrators during an anti-lockdown protest in Sydney’s CBD on July 24.Credit:Brook Mitchell

By early afternoon, it became clear the hordes of protesters would not materialise, and police turned their attention to ensuring people were complying with the public health orders in surrounding areas, including the eastern beaches.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said he was reassured that common sense had prevailed, and that police officers should be “assured that their efforts today have made Greater Sydney a safer place tonight”.

Mr Elliott said the protest “was always going to involve a small minority, but they’ve shown they care for their family and friends and realised this would have the opposite effect of ending lockdown”.

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Metropolitan Field Operations Commander, Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon, said the operations “demonstrate to the community that NSW Police will not tolerate actions that present a risk to public safety and our ability to stop the spread of COVID-19”.

He said the community can expect further operations as police “continue to monitor and enforce the Public Health Order to ensure the safety of the wider community.

“Anyone intent on breaching these orders in the coming weeks should be prepared that police will take action,” he said.

“A further high-visibility operation is planned for tomorrow and officers will have an ongoing presence to ensure there are no further protests and that the community comply with the public health orders.”

Police arrested numerous people during last week’s protest, and have issued $1000 fines to others after the event.

At least 22 detectives have been dedicated Strike Force Seasoned, which aims to identify and prosecute demonstrators.

When the strike force was formed, Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon said officers “have already started to identify attendees and will continue for as long as required to identify and prosecute all those who broke the law”.

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