Gold Coast beaches to close as public ignoring warnings

 

GOLD Coast Mayor Tom Tate has closed three beaches after a weekend of continued defiance on social distancing rules.

The Spit, Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta will all be closed from tomorrow after hundreds of Gold Coasters and out of towners from Brisbane flocked to the sand to enjoy the picture perfect weather.

It comes as Mayor Tom Tate warned of tighter restrictions following a busy weekend with

large crowds at the Spit and fury at Springbrook.

Most parks and the city's normally busy famed shopping precincts are ghost towns but with perfect weather The Spit became one of the Coast's busiest locations.

After spending a week repeatedly telling Gold Coasters to stay home, the sight of packed beaches left Cr Tate outraged.

Large crowds of people out and about on the Spit near Sea World, oblivious to the closed carparks and numerous warnings about ignoring the social distancing guidelines in place. Picture Glenn Hampson
Large crowds of people out and about on the Spit near Sea World, oblivious to the closed carparks and numerous warnings about ignoring the social distancing guidelines in place. Picture Glenn Hampson

"I don't know what people are thinking. State and Federal Governments have asked us to follow some pretty simple measures for one reason only - to keep us all safe," he said.

"Complacency in these times could result in the death of a loved one. I will be seeking advice on what more we can do as a council to ensure people are doing the right thing."

At Springbrook, despite national park closures, a long-term resident said crowds still flocked area and locals approaching groups were verbally abused: "It was like Christmas. It's going to lead to violence up here. So many people are frustrated."

Cars packed The Spit over the weekend despite the warnings to stay home.. Picture Glenn Hampson
Cars packed The Spit over the weekend despite the warnings to stay home.. Picture Glenn Hampson

Images of a full carpark at the Spit on Saturday prompted the council and Gold Coast Waterways Authority to close the car park area to the public.

"People are just not listening so we have taken this measure to discourage visitors," Cr Tate said on Saturday.

The council carpark on the Spit was closed over the weekend. Picture: Adam Head
The council carpark on the Spit was closed over the weekend. Picture: Adam Head

"The message is clear: we can no longer be gathering in groups larger than two and we should only be out for essential activities and exercise.

"A lazy day at the Spit should not be on the cards right now. Staying home is the best way to keep us all safe."

When The Bulletin visited The Spit at 1.30pm on Saturday, the carpark was full, with families and crowds of surfers out enjoying the day.

The crowds at Narrowneck yesterday. Picture: Adam Head
The crowds at Narrowneck yesterday. Picture: Adam Head

A family was unpacking picnic chairs and equipments while groups of surfers milled around, sharing drinks and eating ice creams. Few paid attention to social distancing rules as people walked around the carpark while others were walking dogs.

Yesterday, despite shutting the carpark, crowds returned, but this time parked on the side of the road along SeaWorld Drive. People simply walked to the beach instead.

Packs of surfers ignored the warnings. Pics Adam Head
Packs of surfers ignored the warnings. Pics Adam Head

Surfers Paradise MP John-Paul Langbroek said he understood people's frustration with social isolation measures but warned brazen behaviour would simply lead to further crackdowns.

"Flattening the curve is a battle - this must be maintained long-term," he said.

"If we get further community transmission we will end up like Spain or the US. We didn't realise we would plunge into this situation so fast."

Mr Langbroek said political leaders needed to clearly explain to the public why their behaviour was unsafe or risk further public anger.

The gates were closed after pictured on Saturday revealed a packed carpark. Picture: Adam Head
The gates were closed after pictured on Saturday revealed a packed carpark. Picture: Adam Head

"There really needs to be a stronger health message around flatting the curve.

"These actions over the weekend are the beginning of what I understand will be public frustration with these regulations unless it can be explained to them why what they are doing is unsafe."

Crowds of divers were spotted at The Spit on Friday.

One witness said: "My pet hate is all these scuba divers coming to dive from Brisbane. That's not essential travel, .

"If someone is driving 30 minutes to take their dog for walk, that's not essential travel.

"There's groups of people, backpackers, they walk in groups, touching each other, they don't social distance. This is going to be a coronavirus melting pot at The Spit."

Originally published as 'I don't know what people are thinking going to the beach'


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