The New South Wales premier, Dominic Perrottet, says he was “incredibly disappointed” to see footage of young Hillsong parishioners dancing and singing to music, and the church could be fined if found to have breached the state’s Covid public health order.
“These rules aren’t there for the sake of it,” Perrottet said on Friday morning.
“These rules are in place to keep people safe and for the 99.95% of people who are doing the right thing, I think everyone would feel completely frustrated and shocked by what they saw last night. We don’t want to see that happen again. To see that last night … I was incredibly disappointed.”
NSW police are investigating Hillsong’s annual youth summer camp being held in Newcastle. If found to have breached the health order, Hillsong could be fined up to $55,000.
Perrottet said his “expectation” was that if there was a breach by Hillsong “a fine should be issued”.
On Thursday night, the church was ordered by NSW Health to immediately stop singing and dancing at the youth camp after footage of young parishioners dancing to music sparked widespread anger over certain exemptions for religious groups.
Photos and videos posted on Hillsong’s social media accounts over the past two days showed crowds of people singing without masks during services and dancing to pop music that was non-devotional. The camp, which is aimed at 15- to 17-year-olds, is due to finish on Saturday.
“Singing and dancing at a major recreational facility is in breach of the public health order,” the NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, said in a statement on Thursday evening.