A spike in the number of parties and gatherings at homes at Lake Macquarie and on the Central Coast - deemed illegal under the current COVID-19 public health orders - is "just not acceptable", one of the state's most senior police officers says.
It comes amid news that more than 400 fines for breaching Coronavirus restrictions have been handed out in the NSW Police Northern Region - which stretches from the Hawkesbury River to the Queensland border - since the latest outbreak began.
Lake Macquarie and the Central Coast sit on either side of the northern border of the Greater Sydney lockdown zone, which will be in force until at least July 30.
Central Coast residents cannot leave home unless it is for an essential reason and a five visitor limit applies to homes in regional locations like Lake Macquarie.
Police were kept busy with public health order breaches around that border at the weekend - in one instance finding 10 people dancing and singing in a garden at a Belmont home in the early hours of Saturday morning.
All 10 people, including the 49-year-old homeowner, were fined $1000.
Police also received a report of a private gathering at a home in Terrigal, inside the lockdown zone, where they found eight people - seven did not live at the house. They were also each fined $1000.
Less than an hour later, police fined four teenagers - two aged 18 and two aged 19 - for holding a small gathering at Wamberal, which is also in the Central Coast part of the Greater Sydney lockdown zone.
Northern Region commander Assistant Commissioner Peter McKenna told the Newcastle Herald that police were getting many tips about public health order breaches from concerned community members who were worried about the outbreak spreading from Sydney into the regions.
Assistant Commissioner McKenna said it was clear that some people who were caught knew they were in the wrong.
"We're going to houses and finding people hiding from the police," he said.
"It's absolute silliness and they're finding themselves with thousands of dollars in fines and on their way home.
"I don't think there is any excuse now to say you didn't know or you didn't understand what the health order was for the whole of the state, let alone the area you live in. It just shows they don't have any concept of caring about the community at the moment."
Assistant Commissioner McKenna said police were continuing to catch people north of Greater Sydney who have tried to sneak out of the lockdown zone, thinking "they will be the special one who can get away with it".
"Those who don't want to make the sacrifices that everybody else has to, it's just not acceptable," he said.
"We've given out enough warnings now, we've been very much [focused on] the education phase and now, quite simply, we are at the enforcement stage.
"These public health orders are in place for a reason - all it takes is one contamination, one close contact."
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