The NSW Police Force will increase its presence at COVID-19 testing sites across the state following reports of a general increase in anti-social and aggressive behaviour as lengthy queues continue.
While the majority of people attending testing sites in recent days have behaved appropriately and followed the direction of police and NSW Health professionals, there have been reports of a general increase in unruly and abusive behaviour.
In response to these reports, the NSW Police Force will deploy additional police tasked with proactively patrolling testing sites to ensure NSW Health staff can continue to do their vital job without being the target of abuse.
Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW and Minister for Police, Paul Toole, said extra police would be out in force at testing clinics across the state to protect frontline workers this Christmas.
“Our frontline health workers are giving up their Christmas to take care of the people of NSW, so police will have a strong presence at our busiest testing clinics, ready to deal with anyone taking out their frustrations on people trying to care for our community,” Mr Toole said.
Commissioner Mick Fuller said there was never a time or an excuse to resort to abusive behaviour towards staff at testing sites.
“I want to encourage the community to be respectful and considerate of NSW Health staff, who are working selflessly throughout the holiday period to ensure our community remains safe,” Commissioner Fuller said.
“Anyone caught behaving in an offensive manner, or abusing/assaulting NSW Health staff, will be arrested and dealt with appropriately.”
Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon, Metropolitan Field Operations, said the additional police will be conducting regular patrols and responding to incidents as required.
“Police stand ready to respond to any anti-social behaviour targeting NSW Health staff and disrupting the operations of testing sites,” Deputy Commissioner Lanyon said.
“However, we know the majority of the community continues to be respectful and patient and that is appreciated.
“Our advice is to follow the directions of staff at testing sites at all times, be aware that you might be waiting in line for several hours, and plan ahead for delays, especially if you’re in the car for an extended period during hot weather – keep yourself and others hydrated.
“Traffic management plans have been put in place around testing sites to lessen the impact of increased numbers of people in stationary cars waiting to be tested – if a controller asks you to move on, it may be because you’re blocking a driveway, or the testing site is closing for operational reasons.”
NSW Health advise that large volumes of COVID-19 tests are currently being processed and testing clinics are working hard to meet demand, and increasing capacity where possible. Most people receive their results within 24-48 hours, but please allow up to 72 hours before contacting the clinic.
Most testing clinics are open over the Christmas and New Year period; however, some clinics are closed or have reduced hours. Check before you visit.
Clinic opening and closing hours are advertised on the NSW Government website. You may need to try an alternative clinic if you are still waiting beyond closing time.
Clinic staff will do their best to provide information in these circumstances. We thank you for your patience and apologise for any inconvenience.
Testing for domestic travel
If you are travelling interstate, get tested near your home before you leave. Results typically take 24-48 hours, but please allow for up to 72 hours. Border region clinics are experiencing increased demand across the holiday period.
COVID-19 testing for domestic travel purposes is free and conducted at NSW testing clinics.
While NSW Health does not require people without symptoms to self-isolate after a test for the purposes of travel, people are advised to carefully check and follow the requirements of the jurisdictions they are entering.