Cumberland Council

08/03/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 08/02/2020 22:04

Response to COVID-19 exemption for Gallipoli Mosque Cumberland City Mayor Steve Christou has criticised the State Government over its failure to inform Council about the[...]

Cumberland City Mayor Steve Christou has criticised the State Government over its failure to inform Council about the decision to grant Auburn Gallipoli Mosque a COVID-19 exemption.

COVID-19 restrictions mean that places of worship must not exceed 100 people, or one person per four square metres. Media reports suggest that up to 400 worshippers were allowed to gather for Eid al-Adha prayers on Friday.

Commenting on the State Government's decision to grant an exemption, Mayor Christou said:

'As a Council, we extended our well wishes for Cumberland City's Islamic community as they celebrated Eid and we reminded them about the importance of following the State's public health advice.

'We then learn through media reports and local residents about an exemption that allowed up to 400 worshippers to gather in Gallipoli Mosque, a place of worship, which is situated in Auburn in our Local Government Area.

'Local residents have criticised Council over this decision but I want to make it abundantly clear - the decision was not ours. This kind of behaviour from the State is inexcusable and I am absolutely livid that they would potentially jeopardise the health and well-being of our residents and the health of Greater Sydney residents.

'We either have a pandemic, which we acknowledge and adhere to the relevant health directives for one and all or we don't. We are already witnessing a crisis in Victoria and we don't want to be next. I don't understand how NSW Health can pick and choose who is at risk and who warrants an exemption.

'NSW Health is not an island and if they want to act with transparency and respond to this pandemic effectively, it would be nice to know about these decisions so we can tell our residents and navigate COVID-19, as a community. Had I been informed about this, I would have strongly opposed it on the basis of health and safety of our residents.

'As a result of the State's actions, Cumberland City Council has been subjected to a lot of unfair criticism. I won't cop it and I will ensure that the NSW Government and NSW Health are held accountable for this decision to grant an exemption.'