An enormous police operation has scared off organisers of an anti-lockdown rally in Sydney, avoiding a repeat of last weekend's violence.
A massive taskforce executed a partial shutdown of the CBD this morning, in a bid to quash what NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian deemed a potential "death sentence" to protesters' family members if such an event were to happen again.
Scenes across the NSW capital today were a stark contrast to those last Saturday, when Australians watched in horror as thousands of "freedom" demonstrators descended on the nation's capitals.
Anyone considering attending potential rallies in Sydney was told that doing so would land them "right in the hands of police", with more than 1300 officers descending on the CBD and a command centre established in Hyde Park.
"Forget about the rest of us, but you could be taking the disease home and passing it on to your parents, your siblings, your brothers and sisters or anybody you might have limited contact with," NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said yesterday.
"Do not give those you love the most a death sentence."
In "one final message" to any protesters intending to head to the CBD today, NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon had four blunt words: "Do not do it."
"Our policing operation has been in place since early this morning with up to 1000 police officers including a range of specialist officers including a range of specialist resources on the ground already so don't go into the city to protest," he told reporters.
Taxi, rideshare, and passenger services had been prohibited by NSW Police from conveying passengers to Sydney's CBD between 9am and 3pm today.
The notice was issued to seven transport providers in response to planned unlawful protest activity, "at risk of seriously comprising the public's safety", authorities said in a statement this morning.
Uber alerted customers that trips to the city would be unavailable for the six-hour period, saying the measure will "likely cause significant disruption and we advise you to consider alternatives for any essential travel to and from these areas during this period".
In a statement to news.com.au, a spokeswoman for the ridesharing service said, "The safety of those who use the Uber platform is a key priority for us, and we have a dedicated team working around the clock to support the very best we can".
"We will continue to work with authorities in each state to do what we can to help limit the spread of Covid-19," she added.
Companies that failed to comply faced a maximum penalty of $500,000, while individuals faced fines of up to $100,000.
Meanwhile, a "significant" traffic operation thwarted any repeat of last weekend's behaviour.
Hundreds of officers stopped vehicles at various points, closing off streets and maintaining a heavy presence at train stations.
Deputy Commissioner Lanyon told reporters that NSW Police "don't apologise for today's operation".
"We have made it very, very clear that people should not go into the city and engage in activity like we saw last week," he added.
"In terms of the scale, it is a large operation. We are well-versed in that, we have been doing that for some time. It is important to remember the police have been engaging in delivering operations for the past 18 months under covert conditions as well because it is significant.
"If we don't see [the] scenes that we saw last week, that is a great outcome for us. Those resources can be used elsewhere."
So far, more than 200 people have been fined and more than 60 locked up after the protest.
At least 22 detectives have been dedicated to Strike Force Seasoned – with the aim of identifying and prosecuting any demonstrators – with Deputy Commissioner Lanyon saying they will continue to do so "for as long as required to identify and prosecute all those who broke the law".
"I also want to thank the majority of the community who continue to work with police and abide by the public health orders," he said.
At least three anti-lockdown groups took to Telegram to warn protesters that no official events had been planned for today, strongly advising against anyone heading to any meeting.
One of the organisers said no known organiser groups were operating any protest events.
"We strongly advise against attending any protest events that claim to be operating," the group said.
"Any planned event lacks an established ground team, and has been given insufficient promotional time and effort.
"Events claimed to be operated were fabricated from crudely edited versions of the poster used for the World Wide Rally for Freedom in Sydney, without the permission of the event's organisers.
"Please standby for future events … that are operated by established organising teams."
Another group told its followers the protest was "apparently a police trap".
"No protest today! It's a trap. Don't go," they said.