Despite the NSW government’s on-the-spot fines of $1,000 for leaving the house without a reasonable excuse, thousands of Sydneysiders continued to flock to the beach this weekend.
The Northern Beaches Council was not impressed. On Sunday it made the decision to close Manly Beach, Palm Beach, Freshwater Beach, Warriewood Beach, Queenscliff Beach and North Steyne Beach.
“Our rangers and council staff have been posted to a number of hot spots today where large gatherings have occurred,” the council said in a Facebook post.
“More beaches will close and reserves too if people don’t follow the rules. It’s for the health of our community.”
Rangers were instructed clear people out of the water and off the sand, while police also patrolled some areas to disperse the crowds.
Instead returning home and following basic common sense, many people were witnessed moving along to other nearby beaches instead, such as Shelly Beach.
Several Twitter users posted photos of the ordeal.
Beach closed to all beach activity in and out of the water. Not a single person in the water or on the sand. #queenscliff #manlybeach pic.twitter.com/d8S2AtfuGi— Jane Bianchini (@JBLINWA) April 5, 2020
Manly beach and promenade closed by NSW police under threat of fines #stayhome #covid19australia #manlybeach @smh @GuardianAus pic.twitter.com/jAPIcKRgTK— Tony Wilson (@robot_spares) April 5, 2020
Everybody out: Manly Beach is now closed #COVID19Aus pic.twitter.com/zsw7z50drH— Camilla Baker (@CamillaBaker1) April 5, 2020
#manlybeach closed pic.twitter.com/peRUEc1ZRc— RichBiz (@RichBiz1) April 5, 2020
Most beaches in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, including Bondi and Coogee, have already been closed after people defied the previous ban on outdoor gatherings of 500 people or more. This is the first time the Northern Beaches have been closed en masse.
In addition to on-the-spot fines for leaving the house without a valid reason (going for a dip is not a valid reason), courts can also dish out fines of up to $11,000 as well as six months in jail.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has previously said that fines will be issued at officers’ discretion. Numerous infringements have already been issued under the new lockdown rules.
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