Partygoers openly defy social distancing rules
A plea by the Federal Government for Australians to employ social distancing and self-isolation measures continues to be ignored, with a number of house parties breaking the rules posted online.
In one post, uploaded to TikTok, a group of seven young Australians are heard listening to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews while holding beers.
"You won't be able to go to the pub, because the pub is shut. That doesn't mean you can have all your mates around to home and get on the beers. That's not appropriate," the Premier is heard saying.
The group is seen agreeing, then giving a cheers.
"Miss the pub," the caption reads.
Meanwhile, guests at another house party allegedly hid in closets and cars until the police left.
The party, which allegedly lasted for more than 10 hours in North Parramatta in Sydney's west, allegedly had "plenty of people in close quarters and screaming", on Friday night.
NSW Police were called "but left abruptly", according to one witness, Andrew Hawkins, who lives nearby and is in self-isolation after returning from London 10 days ago.
"I did see the police arrive and it went silent for about 15 minutes, they came in to warn them about being irresponsible in the face of the coronavirus saga," he told news.com.au.
Partygoers allegedly "spun some yarn and hid in closets and in neighbouring units until the police left," the witness said.
"I know this because they bragged about it when the cops left. They actually yelled out that they were having a coronavirus party.
"I heard them afterwards talking about how they had scrambled to hide in closets, in cars, etc until the police left. They kept going until 3am.
"And actually, they have just kicked off again just before midday. What was most disturbing was that they were screaming about how they were having a coronavirus party … bit chilling.
"I don't like to think of myself as a party killer or a social prude, but time and place.
"What's concerning most about the party next door for me is that we're a stone's throw away from Westmead Hospital and there are a lot of people around here that are health care workers, patients, etc. So it just heightens that irresponsibility."
Update 2: @nswpolice did come (thank you to them) but they spun some yarn and hid in closets and in neighbouring units until the police left. I know this because they bragged about it when the cops left. They actually yelled out that they were having a coronavirus party. Dogs. pic.twitter.com/iUjePMPkaZ— Andrew Hawkins (@AndrewNJHawkins) March 27, 2020
It is also understood a house party in Bondi received a number of complaints overnight.
"The NSW Police Force will continue to work closely with NSW Health and other state and Commonwealth agencies to minimise health risks to the wider community," NSW Police told news.com.au.
"The NSW Health Minister has made a number of directions under the Public Health Act, which require people to self-isolate if they are returned travellers, to not conduct or attend mass gatherings, to observe social distancing and to close particular premises.
"Failure to comply with these directions is a criminal offence (maximum penalty is $11,000 / 6 months imprisonment).
"We would again encourage the community to take these ministerial directions seriously and respond accordingly, for the protection of themselves and each other."
In NSW, anyone caught breaking social distancing or self isolation rules may receive on-the-spot fines as part of a statewide crackdown to slow the spread of the virus.
On Thursday, a Sydney massage parlour owner was among the first to cop a $5000 fine after the business was caught operating in a NSW police patrol.
Three staff members from the massage parlour, along with a returned traveller from the Lake Macquarie area, make up the first individuals and business in NSW to receive infringements for failing to adhere to coronavirus rules.
Social distancing in Woollahra. Highest COVID % in Australia. pic.twitter.com/2V4F9obfgB— Michael Kauter (@SPCounsel) March 27, 2020
Not quite Bondi but..... Social gathering at St Kilda Beach today. Photo by Leigh Henningham visit website at https://t.co/MmhsynXkyV #melbourne #instagram #igers #dailylife #australia #instadaily #covid_19 #covid #covıd19 #stkilda #stkildabeach #news … https://t.co/h10yKbjff2 pic.twitter.com/e353h8qdXr— leigh henningham (@leighhenningham) March 27, 2020
It comes as Melbourne's St Kilda beach was pictured heaving with beachgoers yesterday, despite warnings from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to stay indoors.
It has prompted officials in the state to introduce strict new on-the-spot fines from today for those caught breaking social distancing rules.
Police Minister Lisa Neville said individuals would face fines of up to $1,600 for gathering in groups and businesses would cop penalties of $9,913.
Premier Daniel Andrews earlier threatened to close beaches if people continue to flout social distancing rules and risk lives.
Ms Neville warned beachgoers that Victoria Police have one of its largest operations today across its coastal communities.
"They'll be watching on the beaches … they'll be watching on the beaches but also where people are congregating on boat ramps, on piers and on jettys.
"We don't want to close beaches but if we have to, we will."
Ms Neville warned "we are ready to go" to close if they see a repeated effort today and tomorrow.
"We've seen the biggest overnight increase in infection since this has started in Australia," Ms Neville said.
"Police are out in our community checking people are doing the right thing. They are out there patrolling.
"Do not go to the beach. If you need to go for a walk, go, exercise, but this is not about spending a day at the beach. Do the right thing."
Beaches in Hobsons Bay and along the Mornington Peninsula will close until further notice.
In Australia, I’m seeing that solo exercise and social distancing is hard for Aussies.— Taraustralis (@Taraustralis) March 28, 2020
Whilst there’s quite a few solo cyclists and runners (and I applaud their efforts) I am still seeing groups of people/friends that STILL aren’t getting the message to keep a distance. 2/5
Meanwhile in Sydney, most beachgoers were adhering to the rules. Yet for a second weekend, Maroubra beach lifeguards were forced to sound the shark alarms and order people to leave the beach to tackle the problem of people not adhering to social distancing rules.
Beach-goers appeared oblivious to the threat of coronavirus with people also gathered on the walkways along Maroubra Beach.
In Potts Point and Rushcutters Bar, Sydneysiders also seemed to fail the new rules.
Before the closure came into effect, Swedish tourist Amanda Ottosson, 21, spent Friday afternoon at the beach with her three friends.
She told the Herald Sun they all feel well so should be able to go to the beach as long as they keep away from others.
"If hairdressers and cafes stay open (takeaway), why should the beaches shut down? People are way closer in those places," she said.
Bondi Beach, on the other hand, looked quiet. The coastal walk though, not so much.
Police confirmed 12 people were not at home during random self-isolation checks in Victoria on Thursday.
Police told news.com.au that as of 9pm Wednesday, 88 spot checks were completed since Saturday, March 21 and while 75 people were at home, 12 were not.
In South Australia, residents are no longer able to hold gatherings of more than 10 people to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, police announced last night.
Gatherings of less than 10 people must also adhere to the rule of one person per four square metres.
It will be an offence to breach these rules, police said.
@Coles this was at your Kurralta Park store in South Australia today. No one respecting or policing social distancing rules. Particularly bad in the express and self-serve counters. Wtf are you guys doing??? #covid19australia #COVID19au #coronavirusaustralia pic.twitter.com/roEjiJgtEh— CJ Ying (@cjying_yt) March 27, 2020
In Queensland, police will step up enforcement measures for people disregarding directions and flouting isolation laws, it announced today.
Community members can expect to see an increase in police ensuring compliance of public health directions and taking enforcement action against those ignoring the laws.
Officers also have the power to issue on-the-spot fines for anyone who does not comply with the directions.
"While police have been taking a considered and educational approach in undertaking compliance checks over several weeks, officers will be stepping up enforcement action for those blatantly disregarding directions.
"People who are deliberately flouting self-isolation directions, holding unlawful mass gatherings or conducting non-essential business not in compliance with directions may face on the spot fines or stronger penalties."
Since Monday, police have conducted more than 2,023 non-essential business compliance checks across Queensland.
If a person does not comply with the quarantine directions, penalties of up to $13,345 for individuals and $66,672.50 for corporations may apply.
Officers can also issue on the spot fines of $1334.50 for individuals and $6,672.50 for corporations which fail to abide by the health directions.
On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison thanks Australians nonetheless for practising social distancing, saying: "Thank you, Australia. your (social distancing) actions are saving lives, keep doing it."
Authorities are facing increasing pressure to introduce a full lockdown, especially in NSW where there have been 1405 infections, making up about half of the more than 3000 infections in Australia.
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Originally published as Partygoers openly defy social rules