A fence spanning the length of Sydney’s Bronte Beach wasn’t enough to deter everyone from the water, with handfuls of beachgoers still spotted on Wednesday morning.
The extreme measures come after viral photos of Bondi Beach last weekend amplified concerns that Australians were not taking social distancing laws seriously enough.
In response, Waverley Council temporarily closed Bondi, Bronte and Tamarama beaches – but some would not be deterred from their morning swim despite health warnings and physical barriers presented to them.
A Sydney photographer said he was on the end of a barrage of abuse from a swimmer at Bronte after taking photos of the man and others ignoring warnings to stay off the beach.
Australian officials closed Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach on Saturday after thousands of people flocked there in recent days, defying social distancing orders. Ciara Lee reports
“So I was at the beach taking pictures of the fence that’s been newly-erected, and I saw some people going under and over it – this gentleman was running out of the beach and saw me and started hurling some pretty choice words,” the photographer told the Herald.
“I think he just realised he was being photographed doing the wrong thing, I suppose. He sprinted towards me.”
The photographer said a few other beachgoers joined in, saying that the government was overreaching. “It wasn’t very pleasant,” he said.
“The whole gist of it was that it was his beach and he can do what he wants and that the problem was elsewhere, in south-east Asia.”
“He kept saying, ‘This is my beach’.”
The photographer said his top priority was to avoid being spat on. “He was practically foaming at the mouth,” he said.
“I guess the professional thing to do would have been to do nothing but I just told him that there wasn’t two sets of rules for him and for other people.”
Many public spaces have been closed in the latest measures to help flatten the curve of Covid-19 infections, including gyms, swimming pools and almost all sporting activities.
The NSW Teachers Federation has demanded that school operations end from Monday with staff being allowed to work from home.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has called on everyone to do their part.
David Elliott has announced the control of crowds exceeding 500 people on Bondi Beach, after hundreds flocked to the iconic waterfront despite new social distancing restrictions being put in place.
“I want to stress again that this is a time that we all need to step up,” Berejiklian said.
Warnings have been ignored by so many people that NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller on Wednesday announced a raft of new powers granted to police including on the spot fines of A$1000 for individuals and A$5000 for corporations who flout social gathering laws.
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