Footage has emerged on Instagram showing officers from the Hume Police District in New South Wales arresting the Organic Food Store owner in Bowral for refusing to wear a mask.
The concerning scene, which happened on Thursday, has caused outrage in the broader Australian community.
Police received a report that staff and customers had not been wearing masks in violation of current Public Health Orders. After confirming that the premises had no intention of following the medical regulations, police moved to arrest the female 62-year-old manager.
Two police officers forced the woman, who remained calm throughout the incident, into the back of the police van while she demanded to know what she was being charged with. According to a statement released later by police, she was arrested for failing to provide police with her details.
During the ordeal, her male co-worker repeatedly asked, “What has she done?” to which the police replied, “Walk away…”
A third police officer pulled the man (referred to as Mark) away until he was pushed face-first into the side of the police van in a distressed state. The 63-year-old was arrested and charged with assaulting an officer in execution of duty, resisting an officer in execution of duty, and incitement to resit/hinder a police officer in execution of duty.
A third woman, a customer who refused to put on a mask, was also arrested, and all three were taken to the Southern Highlands Police Station. The two women were released, and the customer was issued with a $200 PIN for failing to wear a face mask inside a retail premise.
According to witnesses, the incident escalated after the decision was made to begin filming.
“A customer and a friend decided to film the discussion … that’s when it all kicked off. They refused to allow the filming and forcibly tried to remove her from the store.”
It is another addition to a long list of incidents regarding police across Australia using what the public sees as unnecessary force to arrest and detain citizens for not wearing masks.
The NSW Police Deputy Commissioner, Gary Worboys, commented on the incident during Friday’s daily Covid update.
“Police took suitable action. They went to that location as a result of community concern. The excuse for not wearing a mask was simply that they had no believe in the wearing of masks or the order. It is not on. Police took suitable action, police went to that location as a result of community concern.”
According to police, members of the local community had alerted them to the store’s refusal to comply with the mask order. The organic produce store is located in the Southern Highlands, which is currently under increased Covid regulations after a cluster of cases in Sydney triggered state-wide measures, including mandatory masks for businesses. The small town is 120km from Sydney and has no confirmed cases of Covid.
A sign at the front of the store reads:
To protect our customers & each other…
1. If you have had ANY vaccine in the last 10-14 days please do not enter!!!
2. For hygiene reasons no masks in store please!