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Coronavirus Australia: Fed-up Sydneysiders confined to home in south-west blast ‘selfish’ beachgoers

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Fed-up Sydneysiders in the locked-down western suburbs have blasted ‘selfish’ and ‘disrespectful’ sunbathers lapping up the steamy spring weather at beaches along the coast on Saturday, with many residents seen to be defying basic rules that have been in place for months. 

As temperatures skyrocketed to 29 degrees in the Harbour City footage was widely shared of thousands of sunbathers in large groups at Bondi, Tamarama and Bronte not following key public health orders including social distancing and wearing masks.

Ironically at the same time a Woolworths in Sydney’s eastern suburbs was listed as a Covid exposure site after multiple staff members at the nearby Bondi Junction store tested positive. Several exposure times and dates were listed, between September 1 and 8. 

The images splashed across social media on Saturday sparked outrage from those living in the city’s west where 12 LGAs remain under a tougher lockdown with a 9am-5pm curfew and no opportunity to lounge on the sand for hours at a time under ‘recreation’ orders.

‘This was Bondi today,’ a frustrated man from one of Sydney’s LGAs of concern posted on Twitter, above a photo of groups of maskless people walking close together.

‘Meanwhile in my LGA I can’t see anyone and wear a mask even when I’m running and I have no friends to walk with. Seriously f*** right off.’

Sydneysiders hit the beach in big numbers on Saturday and despite a police presence, many were observed congregating in groups of more than two, not wearing masks and not social distancing, sparking outrage from people in Sydney’s west and in Melbourne

Bondi Beach was packed on Saturday, with some reports the eastern suburbs beaches were as busy as Australia Day

Bondi Beach was packed on Saturday, with some reports the eastern suburbs beaches were as busy as Australia Day

Compliance with public health orders was mixed at Bondi on Saturday, as lockdown-fatigued residents took the chance to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather with temperatures hitting 29 degrees

Compliance with public health orders was mixed at Bondi on Saturday, as lockdown-fatigued residents took the chance to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather with temperatures hitting 29 degrees

With temperatures warmer than they have been for eight months, few could blame locals for wanting to hit the beach or walking beside it

With temperatures warmer than they have been for eight months, few could blame locals for wanting to hit the beach or walking beside it 

‘Absolute disgrace. While everyone in western Sydney are at home on a 30 degree day, people from the east are living their best life,’ wrote Ahmed on Twitter.

‘Yesterday 10-plus police officers arrested a man who wasn’t wearing a mask while [today] there are 1000-plus people with no masks on the beach.’

While many of the beachgoers appeared to be following Covid restrictions, aerial footage captured others congregating in large groups and spilling out onto the sand, grassy areas and rocks along the foreshore at Bondi Beach without a care in the world. 

Police had earlier been out in full force checking IDs and setting up checkpoints to ensure residents were inside their 5km radius but were nowhere to be seen as dozens ignored social distancing and mask-wearing rules.

NSW Health states two people can gather together outside their home for recreation or exercise as long as they’re within 5km of their house and inside their local government area.

It’s understood sunbaking falls into the category of recreation, however masks need to be worn unless residents are strenuously exercising or have an exemption.

On social media, most of the reaction was directed at Bondi. 

‘Must be nice to go to Bondi Beach while people die in hospital because of a global pandemic spread by people who can’t follow basic instructions,’ tweeted one man. 

Some police were observed checking people's right to be at the beach as they arrived, but overall the beach crowds did what they wanted

Some police were observed checking people’s right to be at the beach as they arrived, but overall the beach crowds did what they wanted

NSW Police conduct checks at Bondi beach on Saturday, where thousands hit the sand

NSW Police conduct checks at Bondi beach on Saturday, where thousands hit the sand

It wasn't just Bondi and the eastern suburbs beaches where Sydneysiders acted like the lockdown had ended. Groups congregated at the beaches of Bayside, one of Sydney's LGAs of concern

It wasn’t just Bondi and the eastern suburbs beaches where Sydneysiders acted like the lockdown had ended. Groups congregated at the beaches of Bayside, one of Sydney’s LGAs of concern

Coogee was one of the busiest beaches in the east on the warmest Saturday since January

Coogee was one of the busiest beaches in the east on the warmest Saturday since January

The summery weather brought lockdown-fatigued residents out to the beaches in force

The warm weather brought lockdown-fatigued Sydneysiders to the water after a long winter

Bayside LGA resident also hit their local beaches, many of them in groups and without masks as was seen at Bondi, Bronte, Maroubra and Coogee

Bayside LGA resident also hit their local beaches, many of them in groups and without masks as was seen at Bondi, Bronte, Maroubra and Coogee

Many groups hitting the beach on Saturday appeared to be families as well as groups of friends

Many groups hitting the beach on Saturday appeared to be families as well as groups of friends

Swimming is one of the few activities that comes with no public health orders during the pandemic

 Swimming is one of the few activities that comes with no public health orders during the pandemic

Police warned they would be out in full force to ensure beachgoers were following the rules

Police warned they would be out in full force to ensure beachgoers were following the rules

‘Unbelievable scenes from Bondi… what happened to masks, lockdown and social distancing?’ Wrote John Adams, an economist from Wollongong.

Politician Mark Latham answered the question, saying ‘The lockdown has ended through civil disobedience’.

‘Thousands of bold Sydneysiders defy one of the harshest, most moronic lockdowns the world has seen,’ wrote another man named Glen.

‘These people embody the true Australian spirit of freedom and courage. The only cure for government tyranny is civil disobedience.’

A man from Melbourne was aghast at the photos emerging from Bondi.

‘Countless Australians are going to be denied healthcare in coming weeks. Many will die, despite being treatable,’ he wrote.

Sydney's iconic Bondi Beach was packed before lunchtime on Saturday with temperatures set to reach as high as 29C

Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach was packed before lunchtime on Saturday with temperatures set to reach as high as 29C

Those living in Sydney have spent 11 weeks under a tough lockdown as cases continue to surge

Those living in Sydney have spent 11 weeks under a tough lockdown as cases continue to surge

Locals are seen enjoying the sunshine at Tamarama Beach on Saturday

Locals are seen enjoying the sunshine at Tamarama Beach on Saturday

‘Meanwhile, beachgoers have packed Sydney’s Bondi in what can only be described as a middle finger to those who’ll needlessly be lost.’

While Bondi, Bronte and Tamarama bore the brunt of the backlash, there were maskless groups wandering around Balmoral, Double Bay, Manly, several harbour beaches and Brighton-Le-Sands.

The latter stretch of sand is in Bayside, an LGA of concern, which technically means its residents are not allowed to leave home unless exercising.

One eye witness, who did not wish to be named, said Kyeemagh beach, in the Bayside council area was also ‘packed’, mainly with family groups, and few people were wearing masks.

Earlier on Saturday Brad Hazzard seemingly gave the green light to beachgoers by declaring being outdoors in the fresh air is the ‘safest place to be’.  

There were reports some beaches in the city’s east were forced to shut after reaching capacity from the swarms of Sydneysiders wanting to soak up the sun. 

When asked if he was concerned about the large numbers at the beach this weekend, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he was only worried about those who weren’t vaccinated.

‘Fresh air as we know is the safest place to be at the present time,’ he said during Saturday’s Covid-19 press conference.

‘But we do state maintain your distance and be careful. While we have many more to get to the required vaccination we do have risks.’

He said generally people had been complying with the health orders well.

Crowds filled the sand at Coogee Beach on Saturday as temperatures soared to a scorching 29C

Crowds filled the sand at Coogee Beach on Saturday as temperatures soared to a scorching 29C

Footage taken by 7 News shows countless residents seemingly ignoring the public health orders in North Bondi with many unmasked and gathering in large groups

Footage taken by 7 News shows countless residents seemingly ignoring the public health orders in North Bondi with many unmasked and gathering in large groups

When asked if he was concerned about the large numbers at the beach this weekend NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he was only worried about those who weren't vaccinated

When asked if he was concerned about the large numbers at the beach this weekend NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he was only worried about those who weren’t vaccinated

‘I know the media will have photographs of people out and about today, they tend to do that, generally that is a safe place to be,’ he said.

Checkpoints were set up along main roads in Bondi with police checking driver’s licences to confirm visitors were within 5km of their home. 

Dozens of residents were seen gathered along the rocks at North Bondi with many appearing to disregard the two person rule.

NSW Police told Daily Mail Australia: ‘Police are monitoring the area and are continuing to conduct Covid-19 compliance operations’. 

The popular Red Leaf Beach in Double Bay was forced to close to visitors on Saturday afternoon as was Camp Cove Beach in Watson’s Bay due to the masses of crowds turning up. 

Not all social media users were angered by the photos of people enjoying the beaches though.

Some said they were happy to see people finally out living their lives after 11 weeks in lockdown.

‘Good on them – live life instead of being locked up like prisoners,’ wrote one person.

‘Great to see people out and about… fresh air, sun & freedom!’. 

One Bronte local described the scenes down at the beach ‘as busy as Australia Day’.  

A couple are seen swimming at Bronte Beach in Sydney's east early on Saturday morning

A couple are seen swimming at Bronte Beach in Sydney’s east early on Saturday morning

Police have been checking beachgoers' license to confirm they are within 5km

Police have been checking beachgoers’ license to confirm they are within 5km

Residents soaking up the sunshine in Bondi were kept under the watchful eye of police officers

Residents soaking up the sunshine in Bondi were kept under the watchful eye of police officers

Bronte Beach was equally as packed on Saturday with temperatures soaring into the high 20s

Bronte Beach was equally as packed on Saturday with temperatures soaring into the high 20s

Residents wasted no time heading down for a swim on a scorching hot day

Residents wasted no time heading down for a swim on a scorching hot day 

WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR VISITING THE BEACH? 

NSW Health states up to two people can gather for exercise or recreation as long as they remain within 5km of their home and inside their Local Government Area – unless you live in one of the 12 LGAs of concern.

It is widely understood that ‘recreation’ includes sunbathing.

A major focus is likely to be ensuring residents are not stretching their allowed 5km limit to reach the coast.

But several other restrictions are likely to keep the police and marshals busy this weekend.

Beachgoers cannot gather in groups of more than two and must maintain 1.5 metres apart at all times.

Maybe toughest of all, sunbathers are expected to wear approved masks on the sand – unless they have an exemption or are strenuously exercising.

Sadly Bayside is the only LGA of concern with beaches – and under public health orders its residents cannot go and enjoy a recreational sunbake, as those in the east can. 

On Friday local authorities in Sydney’s eastern suburbs encouraged those who lived in the 5km radius to make time for a swim – as long as they follow the rules.   

”[We] have anticipated the forecast warmer weather this weekend and have been coordinating with the Police, Transport for NSW, the Department of Health and neighbouring Councils,’ Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos told Daily Mail Australia. 

NSW Police confirmed to Daily Mail Australia that they will be out in numbers this weekend.

‘The NSW Police Force remains committed to enforcing the Public Health Order to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus,’ NSW Police told Daily Mail Australia.

‘As part of Operation Stay at Home, operations will continue across the weekend to ensure compliance with the current orders.’

On Friday evening a video shared to social media showed countless residents catching the sunset in Bondi – with most maskless and not socially distanced.

Police setup checkpoints along a main Bondi road to ensure drivers were within the area

Police setup checkpoints along a main Bondi road to ensure drivers were within the area

A policeman speaks to a Sydney resident down in Bondi on Saturday

A policeman speaks to a Sydney resident down in Bondi on Saturday

Residents have been encouraged to take a dip in the water as long as they follow the health orders

Residents have been encouraged to take a dip in the water as long as they follow the health orders

For many the warm weather was the perfect reason to get out the house as Sydney suffers 11 weeks in lockdown

For many the warm weather was the perfect reason to get out the house as Sydney suffers 11 weeks in lockdown

Other eastern suburbs beaches, including Clovelly, Maroubra and Coogee are also expected to be packed over the weekend

Other eastern suburbs beaches, including Clovelly, Maroubra and Coogee are also expected to be packed over the weekend

Masked officers were seen down in Bondi on Saturday as thousands hit the waves

Masked officers were seen down in Bondi on Saturday as thousands hit the waves

A couple are seen down at Tamarama Beach on Saturday to enjoy a dip in the ocean

A couple are seen down at Tamarama Beach on Saturday to enjoy a dip in the ocean

No matter how beachgoers behave one thing councils say they will not be doing is closing any beaches

No matter how beachgoers behave one thing councils say they will not be doing is closing any beaches

The city's eastern beaches were expected to be the busiest on Saturday

The city’s eastern beaches were expected to be the busiest on Saturday

A mother is seen speaking to police as thousands race to the beach in Bondi

A mother is seen speaking to police as thousands race to the beach in Bondi

Residents must live within 5km of the beach to be able to visit with police out in full force

Residents must live within 5km of the beach to be able to visit with police out in full force

Checkpoints are seen in Bondi with police checking residents live within the area

Checkpoints are seen in Bondi with police checking residents live within the area

Footage showed groups lazing around on the grass near the beach in scenes reminiscent of a life before Covid.

Health authorities revealed on Saturday along with the surge in new cases  to 1,599, eight people had died from the virus. 

Of the new deaths, four were western Sydney men – two in their 70s, one in their 30s and one in his 50s.

Another was a south-Sydney woman in her 80s, a south-western man in his 80s and another man in his 40s. None of them had been vaccinated.

There are 1,164 patients being treated in hospital with 221 people in the intensive care unit and 94 on ventilation. 

The cases come as thousands of residents in a handful of Covid-free regional areas awoke to their first day of freedom in four weeks on Saturday.

Stay-at-home restrictions have lifted for much of the state’s northeast and southwest, including in the regional centres of Coffs Harbour, Wagga Wagga and Albury. 

Masks will be mandatory at indoor public venues, but hospitality venues, shops, sporting facilities and beauty services have all been cleared to reopen with restrictions.

Up to to five people will be allowed in a home and up to 20 can gather outdoors.

Entertainment venues like cinemas and theatres can also open with conditions, and outdoor and stadium events can also resume, with limits on attendees.

Weddings and funerals will be limited to 50 people, with churches and places of worship to open subject to the four square metre rule and no singing.

Thousands of Sydneysiders ventured down to Coogee to get a taste of some freedom on Saturday

Thousands of Sydneysiders ventured down to Coogee to get a taste of some freedom on Saturday

Hundreds of locals are seen at Bronte Beach with swimmers taking the chance to enjoy some sunshine

Hundreds of locals are seen at Bronte Beach with swimmers taking the chance to enjoy some sunshine

One masked woman is seen walking in Bondi. NSW recorded 1,599 new cases on Saturday

One masked woman is seen walking in Bondi. NSW recorded 1,599 new cases on Saturday

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