The 48-year-old was allegedly verbally abusing staff at the centre on Burelli Street in Wollongong at around 9am when a security guard approached him.
According to NSW Police, he then turned and coughed in the guard’s face.
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“As a security officer directed the man to leave the premises, the man allegedly turned and coughed in his face,” NSW Police said.
The man was arrested outside the building, and later charged with assault.
He was refused bail and is due to appear in Wollongong Local Court today.
NSW introduced a $5000 on-the-spot fine earlier this month for anyone caught coughing or spitting on frontline workers.
The fine for spitting or coughing was already in place, but only applied to people who attacked health and frontline workers, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, paramedics and police.
The expansion came after NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard requested the powers be extended, after a number of “vile” and “pathetic” attacks against workers took place across the state.
“COVID-19 is every bit as dangerous as a weapon, so anybody who thinks it’s funny to spit or cough on somebody are without doubt pathetic grubs,” Mr Hazzard said.
“Unfortunately, there have now also been incidents in which retail staff and transport staff have also been subjected to this disgusting dangerous behaviour, and it will not be tolerated.”
Different attacks include staff at a supermarket in Mt Druitt in Sydney’s west, who reported a customer coughing in the face of checkout worker who had refused them a refund. At a supermarket in Bega, a group of boys walked the aisles coughing and spitting on staff.
Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association NSW secretary Bernie Smith said the fine signalled the community had no tolerance for the “vile attacks”.