Police were forced to close Sydney’s iconic Manly Beach after thousands of people flocked to the seaside suburb on Sunday morning despite strict social distancing rules in place to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Joggers, beach-goers and mothers pushing strollers were spotted soaking up the sun on Sunday in the northern beaches suburb, after crowds were widely condemned for flocking to Manly on Friday and Saturday.
Manly Beach’s entire three-kilometre stretch was finally closed to the public about 11am, but that did not stop the crowds from gathering in defiance of rules limiting groups to two people and telling people to stay 1.5m apart.
Crowds making the most of the autumn sunshine in Manly despite strict social distancing rules to slow the spread of the coronavirus
A group of people stand in water off the rocks on the Shelley Beach to Manly coastal footpath on Sunday morning
What virus? The rocky shore fronting Cabbage Tree Bay was still a popular bathing and tanning spot on Sunday morning
Manly Beach’s entire three-kilometre stretch was finally closed to the public about 11am on Sunday morning
Groups on the promenade in Manly are still failing to adhere to strict social distancing rules – including not gathering in groups of more than two and remaining 1.5m apart
One beachgoer said about 11am they heard the beach was closing via an announcement on a loudspeaker. Pictured revellers in the water and on the beach in the hours before
In the hours before the beach was closed about 11am, hundreds of beachgoers both in the water and on the beach made the most of the pleasant 21C autumn weather.
Families and bikini-clad revellers were out in full force on the beach and the rocky shore fronting neighbouring Cabbage Tree Bay.
Hundreds more could be seen walking their dogs or enjoying their morning coffee as they walked along the footpath joining Manly Beach to nearby Shelley Beach – which is still open.
By midday though the beach was completely deserted, with one resident sharing a photo of the eerily quiet strip of sand set against an almost cloudless blue sky.
Northern Beaches Council said in a statement the decision had been made to close the beach because of the number of people gathering there.
‘Our Rangers and Council staff have been posted to a number of hot spots today where large gatherings have occurred,’ the council said on its Facebook page.
‘We have had to close Warriewood, Manly, North Steyne, Queenscliff, Freshwater and Palm Beach. More beaches will close and reserves too if people don’t follow the rules.’
Pictured: The promenade and beach at Manly still busy – with hundreds of people making their way around the beach – at 10.21am
Families and bikini-clad revellers were out in full force on Manly Beach and the rocky outcrops between the popular spot and nearby Shelley Beach
The closure comes more than two weeks after a series of beaches were shut to the public in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
From March 22, Waverley Council closed Bondi, Tamarama and Bronte Beach while Randwick Council shut off Maroubra, Coogee and Clovelly Beach.
The northern beaches are a known hotspot for coronavirus, having the second-highest number of cases in New South Wales.
Fun in the sun: Hundreds more could be seen walking their dogs or enjoying their morning coffee as they walked along the footpath joining Manly Beach to nearby Shelley Beach
Pictured: Dozens of people on the beach and in the water at Shelley Beach, which is still open. It is a secluded beach to the south of Manly Beach
As of March 29, NSW Health figures show there are 101 cases of COVID-19 in the Northern Beaches council area, behind only Bondi in the city’s eastern suburbs.
On Saturday, one family enjoying the Manly sunshine told Daily Mail Australia that they wouldn’t let the global crisis that has killed more than 50,000 people interrupt their usual morning swim.
Reid Shaw, 13, said: ‘There’s no difference, it feels the same.’
His father, Chris Shaw, noted that ‘last week there were a few people here clumped in groups but I hope that people are starting to get the message about how serious this virus is now’.
A still busy Manly Beach is pictured on Sunday before authorities made the decision to finally close the famous spot to the public
A group of people congregating along the rocky shoreline between Manly Beach and Shelley Beach. The stretch is a popular walk for locals and tourists
People are seen exercising at North Steyne Beach in Manly on April 5 after Northern Beaches Council closed Manly Beach
On Friday, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for all foreign visitors and students to leave the country now amid fury at backpackers for failing to follow social distancing rules.
He said that while those with essential skills – such as visiting doctors and nurses – will be encouraged to stay, it was past the time for everyone else to ‘make their way home’.
The New South Wales Government has implemented further restrictions that only allow residents to leave their homes for one of 16 essential reasons.
One woman on Saturday wore a colourful neon bikini to Manly Beach as she headed for a solo swim in the water
Police, lifeguards and council rangers (pictured) approaches groups of people to enforce social distancing measures
One woman enjoyed the sunshine as she took to Manly Beach dressed in a wetsuit and a bikini with her surfboard
These reasons include exercise, grocery shopping, seeking medical care and attending school or work.
One young woman out for a walk with her boyfriend said she felt at risk coming down to the beach.
Jana, 26, said: ’It’s really busy down here, people definitely aren’t behaving any differently. I don’t like to walk down here because I feel like it’s too crowded.’
Other beachgoers noted that the government restrictions were not being properly followed or understood
One young couple spent time relaxing in the water as they chatted in the shallow waves of Manly Beach
Two friends who were strolling along the walkway told Daily Mail Australia that the lack of social distancing was an issue in Manly.
One woman, 33-year-old Kat, said: ‘The social distancing measures are not well understood here. Not may people are giving you space, especially all the runners jogging and brushing up against you.
‘There’s a bit of confusion around the restrictions and it’s not really clear if we should be going out or staying home.’
On being out and about herself, Kat said: ‘I don’t feel at risk. I feel most guilty that I could be putting someone else at risk.’
Three friends stood on Manly Beach to chat despite the Federal Government’s ban on gatherings over two people
Her friend El, also 33, said that it was ‘hard to make the space among so many people’.
She noted that: ‘Being outside is the only thing keeping people sane at the moment, so I think it’s important to keep the beach open wherever they can.’
Licien Batista, 34, on a walk with her baby and friend from Brazil, said that the social distancing measures should be more closely followed.
’If everyone keeps their distance and follows the rules then we will be able to get over this virus quicker,’ she explained.
Manly locals decided to sit and chat alongside the beach despite the laws that asked Australians to remain at home
Police were stationed at Manly Beach on Saturday to ensure that beachgoers were not congregating in groups
Two NSW Police officers patrolled Manly Beach on Saturday morning and asked those not exercising to return home
‘Some people aren’t following the rules and they might get us sent into a total lockdown. When it’s nice weather people come down to the beach and hang out in groups and stroll around or sit on the sand,’ Ms Batista said.
Other beach-goers felt that they were protected from the virus as long as they were cautious.
One couple pushed a pram along the walkway and said they were taking extra precautions.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 24,812
New South Wales: 3,985
Western Australia: 652
South Australia: 463
Australian Capital Territory: 113
Northern Territory: 33
TOTAL CASES: 24,812
CURRENT ACTIVE CASES: 3972
Updated: 7.45PM, 24 August, 2020
Jeremy Bennett, 36, said: ‘We’re just being really careful, staying away from people and making sure not to touch any railings or anything, we’ve brought hand sanitiser with us.’
His wife Sasha, 31, agreed: ‘We don’t feel at risk as long as there’s lots of space but sometimes the beaches can get really busy and clogged up.’
Two NSW police officers were patrolling the beach and asked anyone who was not exercising to return home.
Lifeguards and council rangers were also monitoring the group sizes.
Unlike Manly, the beaches in Sydney’s East were shut down over coronavirus fears.
This did not stop Bondi locals from trying to enjoy some sunshine by the beachside on Saturday.
NSW Police patrolled Bondi Beach on horseback and approached anyone who was sitting down in the grass.
They asked couples and families to move along back to their homes.
Groups of friends and single beach-goers were also informed that they could not stay at Bondi beach or its surrounds.
The number of positive coronavirus cases across Australia have reached 5,539.
British backpackers are booted out of Down Under: Australian PM orders all foreign tourists home after fury at bad behaviour during coronavirus crisis – who now face scramble fo r over-priced flights
- Australian Prime Minister urged everyone on student or visitor visa to go home
- He said ‘Australia must focus on its citizens and its residents’ amid corona crisis
- Comes after fury at backpackers and hostels for ignoring social distancing
- Travellers scrambled to find a way home, with some flights cancelled and prices for the remaining tickets soaring to more than £1,000 each
By Chris Pleasance for MailOnline
Australia’s Prime Minister has told all foreign visitors and students to leave the country now amid fury at backpackers for failing to follow social distancing rules.
Scott Morrison said that while those with essential skills – such as visiting doctors and nurses – will be encouraged to stay, it was past time for everyone else to ‘make their way home’.
It comes after one hostel in Sydney was shut down after police were called to break up a party, while tourists also packed on to Bondi Beach despite warnings not to gather outdoors.
There were more than 1million people in Australia on visitor and student visas on December 31 – thought to include tens of thousands of UK and US tourists – though it is unclear how many remain in the country.
Many people were struggling to arrange last-minute flights home following the announcement, as existing flights were being cancelled while prices for the remaining tickets soared to more than £1,000 each.
Police were called to a hostel in Sydney to break up this rooftop social gathering, where revellers were visibly flouting social distancing rules
British backpacker Peter Leggatt (pictured) defended the party, saying it is ‘impossible’ to socially distance in a hostel, where many travellers are ‘trapped’ as flights dry up
A cluster of cases among backpackers was also traced back to two parties at nightclubs near Bondi Beach in March, even as the government advised people not to take the threat of the virus lightly.
British backpacker Peter Leggatt then prompted further outrage when he suggested that people were simply ‘jealous’ that backpackers were still having fun.
Health minister Greg Hunt branded the situation in Bondi ‘unacceptable’ and called on the local council to ‘stop that from occurring’.
Mr Morrison stopped short of ordering foreigners to leave as he spoke Friday, but made it clear they will not be a priority during the crisis.
There are fears that backpacker hostels – with cramped living conditions and communal facilities – could become hotbeds of disease (pictured, a hostel in Bondi that was forced to shut after an outbreak there)
Mr Morrison said: ‘As much as it is lovely to have visitors to Australia in good times, at times like this if you’re a visitor in this country, it is time… to make your way home.
‘Australia must focus on its citizens and its residents to ensure that we can maximise the economic supports that we have.’
There are fears that backpacker hostels – with crowded living arrangements, shared kitchen and limited hygiene facilities – could turn into virus hotbeds.
Some backpackers have complained that they are effectively trapped in the country as hundreds of flights are grounded and costs for the remaining seats soar.
Police were filmed breaking up a rooftop party at one hostel in Sydney recently, where residents were ignoring social distancing rules.
Britons in desperate last-minute scramble to find a way home
Thousands of Britons were scrambling to find a way home from Australia ordered all visitors to leave.
Dozens of Facebook groups sprung up with people trying to book last-minute tickets as prices soared to more than £1,000 per seat.
Meanwhile others revealed their scheduled flights had been cancelled, leaving them stranded.
Britons were scrambling to find a way home from Australia on Friday after they were told to leave the country, with people searching for ways to afford a ticket
Dozens of flights were being cancelled with costs for the remaining seats spiralling to more than £1,000 each
The British Embassy told everyone wishing to return home to book a flight as soon as possible, but admitted that availability of seats is ‘evolving’.
MailOnline discovered one user who was considering taking out an emergency loan to cover the cost, and another who claimed to have been made jobless and homeless, and was unable to afford to fly home.
Triona Mullahy, from Ireland, told ABC News that she has spent $8,000 on flights so far, only to see them all cancelled and was running out of options.
Meanwhile Britons Dan Campbell and Leanne Hawkes said they also had a fight home that has been cancelled, and both recently lost their jobs in a call centre which means they cannot afford another.
One Briton claimed to have been made jobless and homeless in the crisis, and was unable to return home because she could not afford a ticket
While the UK has been chartering repatriation flights to some countries that halted all commercial flights, Australia has kept its airports open meaning that Britons are expected to book a ticket home.
Even those who managed to book a flight home that went ahead, then found themselves stranded after landing because many coach and train services have been cancelled.
National Express and Megabus have announced that all services have been cancelled this week, and while trains are still running many services have been reduced.
UK regional airlines have also been grounding flights as demand plummets.
The British Embassy advised everyone without Australian citizenship or residency to book a flight home as soon as possible, but admitted availability was ‘evolving’
Others complained of flights being cancelled last minute, leaving them stranded
Bondi beach is now deserted after it was closed to prevent social contact, but was still crowded earlier this week despite government guidelines
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged all foreigners in the country on visitor or student visas to ‘make your way home’ as the country’s coronavirus crisis intensifies (pictured, tourists leave a hostel in Bondi on Friday)
That prompted Briton Peter Leggatt to hit back on social media, saying it is ‘impossible’ to socially distance in a hostel and those cheering on police were simply ‘jealous’ of the fun they were having.
He also pointed out that many backpackers in Australia have no choice but to remain in the country, since departing flights are being repeatedly cancelled.
He wrote: ‘We’re stranded here, a lot of us without family or even friends, a huge chunk now out of work, and even more of us having flights home repeatedly cancelled leaving us with no funds and no way out.
‘But let’s ignore all that, and blame us solely for the outbreak in Bondi (because apparently it was only backpackers there).’
Mr Morrison said Australia will be prioritising its own citizens and residents for economic help as the country moves towards a lockdown over the virus
Backpackers have been singled out in the police blitz after a virus cluster emerged in the city’s eastern suburbs, a hotspot for young travellers staying in cramped hostels.
Figures released last week identified Waverley Council, which covers Bondi, as having the most confirmed coronavirus cases in New South Wales.
The prime minister explained that some travellers to Australia, such as those on working-holiday visas could work in fruit picking and other agricultural work.
But he said they must first self-isolate before travelling to regional areas, amid fears the migration could spread the virus from cities to ‘more vulnerable’ regions.
He also said workers will be required to abide by social-distancing rules.
‘This is being done to ensure that those producers can get the work done but also to ensure that the communities are protected,’ he said.
It comes as Australians continue to return home to see out the pandemic. Passengers returned on a special flight repatriating Australians from abroad (pictured on Thursday in Brisbane)
Police screen incoming passengers at the domestic airport in Brisbane on Friday (pictured)
‘You can’t have six backpackers in a caravan up out in rural parts of the country,’ he added.
‘That’s not on. Not going to happen.’
He reiterated the current visa regulations which state that students who come to Australia must prove they have enough money to support themselves for 12 months.
Mr Morrison commented that given students will have known about this rule before arriving, it is ‘not unreasonable’ to expect them to look after themselves.
‘That is a requirement for their visa when they come for the first year,’ he explained.
‘That is not an unreasonable expectation of the government that students would be able to fulfill the commitment that they gave.’
SOCIAL DISTANCING LAWS EXPLAINED STATE-BY-STATE: HOW TO AVOID GETTING CAUGHT OUT
Gatherings are restricted to two people, with residents only allowed out of their homes for a few essential reasons.
This includes buying food or essential goods, getting a medical treatment or engaging in physical exercise.
You can also visit a terminally ill relative or attend a funeral.
Students are also allowed to attend childcare, school, college or university.
From April 3, the state’s borders will be closed to everyone except residents and essential workers.
New South Wales
NSW officials are also enforcing the two-person limit, with residents legally obliged to stay at home unless they have a ‘reasonable excuse’.
This includes travelling to work or school, buying food or other essentials, exercise and medical reasons.
It is left up to police officers to decide who will get the fines, with the maximum being an $11,000 fine or six months in prison.
The state has also brought in the two-person limit inside and outside the home – not counting pre-exisitng members of the household.
Its chief medical officer Dr Brett Sutton confirmed an exception would made for people visiting their boyfriend or girlfriend if they lived separately.
Otherwise, people are allowed to leave the house for one of five reasons – shopping for food, work and education, care reasons, exercise or other extenuating circumstances.
Australian Capital Territory
The ACT is also enforcing the two-person limit, but people are allowed up to two guests inside their homes – only if there is at least four square metres per person.
It also only allows people to leave home for essential reasons, including shopping for essentials, medical reasons, exercise, work or study.
Offenders are being issue with warnings, but may get a fine if they are found to be breaking the rules again.
As well as closing its borders to non-residents, WA has also introduced fines for people who cross out of their region.
Nine regions have been carved up, and people cannot move between them for anything but an essential reason.
This includes going to work, medical appointments, school or other types of education.
Drivers are also allowed to transport freight, and people can go to a shop outside of their area if the essentials are not available closer to home.
In NT, police are still enforcing a 10-person limit rather than just two people.
But chief minister Michael Gunner warned it may take further action if people don’t stick to the rules.
All non-essential arrivals in the state must self-quarantine for 14 days, and people are not allowed to visit remote communities.
Tasmania also has brought into law the two-person limit, with residents only allowed to leave home for essential reasons.
This includes shopping, exercising, and going to healthcare apppointments.
Going to a vet is also allowed, as is going to school or caring for another person.
Arrivals must self-isolate for 14 days.
SA has also stuck to the 10-person limit, with $1,000 on-the-spot fines for people who have a larger group.
Again, all arrivals into the state must self-isolate for 14 days.
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