Bondi Beach will close in an attempt to quell the spread of the deadly coronavirus after thousands of beachgoers ignored social distancing advice.
It is understood Police Minister David Elliott is pushing the move amid widespread outrage over dramatic photos depicting thousands of beachgoers flocking to the beach despite global efforts to stay inside, away from large groups of people, to minimise risk of infection.
Other large beaches may follow suit.
The move comes after Health Minister Greg Hunt slammed Bondi beachgoers and the local council for not meeting self-isolation measures on Friday.
“Around the country people are generally taking enormous strides but what happened in Bondi was unacceptable and the local council must take steps to stop that occurring,” he said.
“Our message to local council is this is all of our responsibilities each of us as individuals, groups, families.
“Where something like this is occurring the local council must step in, that message is absolutely clear.”
In a statement to news.com.au, the office of Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos said of the closure: “All we can confirm that at 2 o clock we’ll be in a teleconference with police and health to find out what’s being proposed or planned.”
On Friday night, Mayor Masselos, posted a statement in response to the overcrowding, urging the public to “observe health advice about social distancing when visiting our area including our beaches”.
“The public must at all times keep a minimum safe distance from each other in public places and if you don’t need to be out in public, please consider staying at home,” Mayor Masselos said.
“We all have a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and I am frustrated that people continue to ignore Health advice about social distancing as observed yesterday at Bondi Beach.”
It then led to Mayor Masselos issuing a public plea on Saturday for people to stay indoors amid the coronavirus pandemic and away from beaches.
Thousands flocked to Bondi Beach on Friday amid temperatures in the high 30s, with pictures of packed beaches going viral online.
The photos of beachgoers ignoring social distancing measures have been harshly criticised by foreign media and on social media as the world attempts to slow the spread of the deadly virus.“
The public must at all times keep a minimum safe distance from each other in public places and if you don’t need to be out in public, please consider staying at home,” Mr Masselos said.
The news comes as the fallout for Australians and tourists who were spotted recklessly defying the government’s strict advice on social distancing and self-isolation continues to prompt fury from locals and officials.
Hundreds made the most of the warm weather in Sydney on Thursday and Friday despite the Prime Minister announcing strict new rules yesterday.
Pictures of a packed Bondi Beach were circulated around the world, prompting Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos to call on the public to observe health advice and consider staying at home.
“We all have a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and I am frustrated that people continue to ignore health advice about social distancing as observed yesterday at Bondi Beach,” she said.
“We all need to behave in a safe and responsible manner so that the spread of this virus can be slowed. No one is immune to COVID-19 and behaving irresponsibly puts the entire community at risk.”
International publications such as the UK’s The Metro described the scenes on Bondi Beach as “unbelievable” while readers labelled those responsible as “stupid”.
At least 877 cases of the new coronavirus have now been confirmed across Australia, and seven people have died.
“I am surprised by the number of people out,” one swimmer told CBS.
“I’ve just been out for a swim, and come out, get a bit of exercise, get outside and head home.
“I guess I’m more surprised by just the number of people who are just lazing around on the beach.
“The whole social distancing hasn’t really taken hold in Bondi just yet, I would say.”
Earlier on Friday, The Daily Telegraph spoke to one group of American backpackers who said they were unfazed by the virus because they were young and “unlikely” to be infected.
“We figure none of us have any symptoms, due to our age the virus is unlikely to get us, and we’re more likely to get it in New York City where there are double the amount of cases than the 300 in Australia,” Lauren Titone said, citing incorrect figures.
“I’m not nervous. I’m young. I feel my body can handle it.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that he was aware of some people continuing to flout the rules.
“We are hearing reports of some who are saying they’re in self isolation and they’re out and about,” he said.
“In many cases for the young and the healthy, it is true that the majority of cases, 8 out of 10 people only have a mild illness … but by you doing the right thing, you’ll be saving the life of someone who is more vulnerable,” he said. “So do it for your fellow Australians.”