Australian police burst into Catholic Mass to check mask compliance
Western Australian police burst into a Catholic Mass on Friday to check mask compliance.
St Bernadette’s Catholic Church in Mount Hawthorn, Perth, halted service after a police officer entered to ensure every parishioner was masked, Sky News Australia reported for the first time. Perth and Peel regions in Australia imposed a mask mandate on January 16 in response to a rise in Covid-19 cases.
One attendee told 6PR radio in Australia that it was disturbing to see police enter a place of worship to enforce Covid-19 restrictions.
“It’s just quite confronting to see police vests and stuff in the church,” he said. “He didn’t take his hat off, which is quite disrespectful in this environment.”
“It’s really disturbing to see the liturgy you love being stopped by the police,” he said. “I mean I’ve never seen anything like it and I don’t think many people have seen it, certainly not in this country.”
The parishioner told the station that the police officer burst into the mass and demanded the attention of the pews. Police reportedly received reports that some people were not wearing masks in the church.
“[They] proceeded to check the exemptions of three or four parishioners and then left, everything was in order,” he said. An exemption is required from a doctor for someone to skip the mask requirement.
Since the eruption of the pandemic, Australia has been known for its strict Covid-19 mitigation regime, including extended shutdowns, tightly monitored quarantine and isolation, state surveillance of citizens, testing at checkpoints and the prohibition of certain activities to unvaccinated residents.
A church priest wrote a social media post after the incident reminding the congregation to abide by the Covid-19 order so the church is not penalized.
“Heavy fines for the priest, our parish and individuals will be incurred if you are caught without wearing your mask. Please cooperate with this request to avoid any complications,” he said.
Australia doubled down on its Covid-19 strategy last month when it twice rejected tennis star Novak Djokovic’s visa for his submission of what authorities considered a dishonest vaccine medical exemption, deporting him and preventing him from defending his winning record at the Australian Open Tournament.