A NSW MP has slammed "a lack of guidance" from his own Police Minister around the enforcement of Public Health Orders, after two hospitality workers were arrested for Covid breaches.
The two people arrested at Shellharbour Village south of Wollongong, for refusing to wear masks are understood to have claimed to have medical reasons for doing so. They did , but did not provide supporting documents to police when asked.
However, the NSW Health website states it is not a requirement for people to have a doctor's certificate confirming an exemption. When asked to clarify the correct process for demonstrating an exemption, a NSW Health spokesperson said documentary evidence "will assist".
"If someone has a medical condition which prevents them wearing a mask, having documentary evidence available, such as a letter from a registered health practitioner or a disability care provider, will assist assuring that the person is complying with the Order," the spokesperson said.
NSW Police were asked to clarify the requirements of the order, and a spokesperson provided the following response: "Police are tasked with determining fines on a case-by-case basis. If someone feels they have been wrongly fined there are avenues to appeal the fine."
NSW Police Minister David Elliott's office was contacted, but declined to comment, saying the policy was the responsibility of NSW Health, and enforcement was an operational responsibility of NSW Police.
Mr Ward said it was "unacceptable" for the Police Minister not to give clear guidance.
"The overwhelming majority are doing the right thing, applying common sense and seeking clarification when needed," he said.
"There are however some people who are trying to make a name for themselves by seeking to expose loopholes in the system that go against the spirit of the law.
"It is unacceptable for the Police Minister to not give clear guidance or at least close that loophole. It creates confusion for the general public and the police who want to do their job and keep our community safe."
Mr Ward advised those with a medical reason not to wear a mask to contact their GP for a note.
"Seek a note from the doctor, not disclosing their condition, simply saying that they have a medical reason why they can't comply," he said.
"If people know they have an exemption they would most likely have consulted an expert - just get it in writing."
A spokesperson from regional health organisation Coordinare said they were not aware of any local doctors being asked for face mask exemption letters.