With at least an extra two weeks of lockdown for Greater Sydney, millions of people are working their hardest to stay inside.
As the state’s coronavirus outbreak worsens by the day, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian continues to plead with residents to only leave home for an essential reason.
It comes as New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Gary Worboys revealed 200 fines were issued to COVID rule breakers in the last 24 hours, with the “vast majority” outside of south-west Sydney where the state’s outbreak is seeing large case numbers.
But there are other fines residents must worry about as well.
Bondi Beach local Richard Colvin was doing his best to comply with the health orders when he received a rude shock on his car earlier this week.
He returned to working from home earlier this month when Ms Berejiklian ordered the lockdown and thus has not been driving his car to and from work each day.
On Tuesday afternoon, just after 5pm, Mr Colvin realised he had been fined $117 for overstaying his time in a parking spot.
“I’d like to know why parking rangers patrolling up and down our streets is deemed an essential service during Sydney’s lockdown,” Mr Colvin told news.com.au.
“I received a parking fine today for parking longer than two hours in a space outside my place in Bondi.
“As someone who uses their car daily for work and can no longer do so during lockdown, I find it absurd that councils are still handing out parking fines considering the situation that we’re in.”
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Mr Colvin said it was “astounding” he was shown no leniency by the Waverley Council parking ranger as “Sydneysiders are doing the right thing by staying home”.
Mr Colvin’s Bondi fine wasn’t the first time he spotted parking rangers dishing out fines during Sydney’s lockdown.
“Two weeks ago when the lockdown started I also saw a parking ranger handing out fines in front of the Covid testing site near Rushcutters Bay,” he said.
“Can only imagine it was someone who was getting a Covid test.
“’We’re all in this together’, except council who still want to make sure they hit their parking fine quota.”
A spokeswoman for Waverley City Council, which encompasses most of Sydney’s eastern suburbs, said timed parking zones were in place to “benefit local businesses, residents and those needing to access facilities in Waverley”.
“Council has Enforcement Staff on duty and we ask residents and visitors to adhere to parking restrictions for the benefit of all,” she said.
“Residents displaying residential parking permits within scheme areas can continue to park legally for the entire day.
“Anyone wishing to discuss a parking fine should contact Revenue NSW.”
Mr Colvin was parked on Simpson St in Bondi, a largely residential street with no businesses.
Speaking to news.com.au, Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne said his council was taking a different approach.
Mr Byrne has requested rangers do not enforce or fine people for overstaying in residential areas.
Parking rangers, however, would continue to monitor and enforce safety.
“The first lockdown we had a lot of problems with people having driveways parked over … so that’s a safety problem that needs to be monitored,” he said.
“And we are still monitoring main streets to ensure turnover so people can access GPs, pharmacies and supermarkets.”
Mr Byrne said main streets appeared to be relatively empty because most people were staying home but “if that becomes a problem, I’m open to further amending the approach to drop fines all together”.
Mr Byrne said the Inner West Council was the only local council to turn off its parking meters at 7pm every night, urging other councils to adopt the same approach.
“Obviously now is not the time for councils to be raising revenue, what matters now is looking after local residents and making sure they’re safe,” he said.
“The truth is, government at all levels – state and local – have become addicted to parking revenue.
“Particularly during this crisis, we need a fairer approach that is keeping residents safe in their suburbs rather than making money.”
Mr Byrne urged any Inner West resident that felt they had been unfairly fined for parking to email him.
A spokeswoman for City of Sydney council, which encompasses the CBD and its surrounds, said there was “unprecedented pressure” on its region’s parking spaces due to the lockdown.
“We appreciate that these are difficult and uncertain times … and we have done our best to respond appropriately,” a spokeswoman said.
“It is important for the city to balance the needs of our entire community – all our residents, businesses and visitors.”
The City of Sydney spokeswoman said parking rangers would take a “flexible approach” to parking and other infringements, as it did in last year’s March 2020 lockdown.
“With limited space available, we have prioritised supporting emergency services and frontline workers,” the spokeswoman said.
“Parking enforcement helps us manage issues of safety and risk, but also helps us encourage drivers to move on so space is fairly available to all. This is essential for both our residents and our local businesses that require parking turnover.
“We cannot let people park unrestricted, because we need to ensure there is parking space for essential workers and people accessing local businesses.”
Disputes about parking fines should be directed to Revenue NSW, the spokeswoman added.