A fiery exchange between a Sydney resident and a group of backpackers highlights the mounting tension between locals and travellers amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Footage obtained by 10 News First shows a group of people, allegedly backpackers, sitting around having dinner on what appears to be a rooftop, disregarding social distancing restrictions.
“Spread the coronavirus, no worries,” a man off-camera is heard saying of the gathering in a sarcastic tone.
In another clip, a group of people are seen reportedly outside a hostel, while a man, also off-camera, yells at them.
“There’s people out there dying (of COVID-19),” he shouts up the street.
“You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
He adds: “You’re a disgrace, all of you.”
The footage and subsequent media coverage angered people on social media.
One person called for NSW Premier to send the backpackers home.
“Send all the Sydney backpackers home as they are ruining our reputation,” another person tweeted.
On Friday, Scott Morrison urged non-Australians to consider heading back home.
“We still have quite a number of people who are here on visitor visas. As much as it is lovely to have visitors to Australia in good times, at times like this if you're a visitor in this country, it is time, as it has been now for some while... to make your way home,” he said.
But on Saturday it was announced the federal government would implement temporary changes to backpacker visas which will enable them to stay longer at a critical crop-picking time.
Backpacker visa changes
Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said the visa changes, that would allow working holidaymakers to continue to work in agriculture and food processing until the coronavirus pandemic has passed, are also geared towards other key industries – such as health and aged and disability care.
Working holidaymakers who are employed in these critical sectors will be exempt from the six-month work limitation with one employer and eligible for a further visa to keep working if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months.
"This is a critical time for our food security in our nation, but also continuing to keep our export markets open," Agriculture Minister David Littleproud told reporters in Brisbane on Saturday.
"This is an important step, we have listened to farmers but we have also ensured doing this in a responsible way that meets health requirements."
Before moving to other parts of the country, working holidaymakers will need to self-isolate for 14 days and register at the australia.gov.au website.
Those who do not comply will face having their visas cancelled.
The footage emerged only days after police broke up a rooftop party at a Sydney hostel.
Police confirmed to Yahoo News Australia “no further action” was required after that.
Officers reportedly dispersed members of the crowd who told 7 News they believed they weren’t technically in breach of social distancing rules because they were all living at the hostel together.
– With AAP
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