SYDNEY, NSW, Australia - Hundreds of Australian Army soldiers are to be deployed to the streets of Sydney in a bid to combat the fast-spreading Delta variant of the Coronavirus.
300 troops are heading for Australia's largest city to assist police to enforce compliance of restrictions, which were expanded on Thursday.
The measure follows the announcement earlier on Thursday by New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian that 239 cases and two deaths had been recorded during the previous 24-hours. This despite the fact the city and its surrounds have been in lockdown for more than a month.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said Thursday he asked the Australian federal government for Australian Defence Force (ADF) assistance as the NSW Police Force is to significantly expand its enforcement activities in Sydney over the coming days.
"The assistance of the ADF has been essential over the past 18 months particularly during last year's border operation, the ongoing hotel quarantine operation, and the assistance provided with logistics support in the Police Operations Centre," Commissioner Fuller said Thursday afternoon.
"With an increase in enforcement activity over the coming week, I have now made a formal request to the Prime Minister for ADF personnel to assist with that operation.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said the army's support would bolster police enforcement efforts.
"There is a longstanding and highly-professional relationship between the NSW Police Force and the ADF," he said.
"As I have said previously, support from the Army will add another line of defence to the NSW Government's crackdown on COVID-19 compliance."
"The Army's unique skills and training have combined many times with those of our police officers to serve the people of NSW in times of crisis, such as the floods and severe bushfires we've experienced in recent years," Elliott added.
"This will be a functional, effective, and dynamic team to fight this pandemic."
On Wednesday the New South Wales government extended the current lockdown by another month to 28 August 2021. The lockdown takes in Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains, Wollongong, and Shellharbour areas.
New restrictions announced on Thursday require people in Blacktown, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, and Parramatta to wear a mask at all times outside their home.