'LOST THE PLOT': Debate rages as thousands flock to Bondi

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While the NSW Health Minister has promised being out in the fresh air is the "safest place to be" amid Sydney's Covid outbreak, some people are concerned about the hoards of people flocking to the beach.

NSW recorded 1599 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, the highest the state has recorded in the pandemic.

However, as the weather warmed up for the weekend, people started flocking to the beaches and minister Brad Hazzard was questioned on whether he was alarmed by the large crowds.

"No, I am concerned about people who are not vaccinated, fresh air we know is the safest place to be at the present time," he said on Saturday.

Brad Hazzard said being outdoors is the safest place to be right now, so long as people are still careful and maintain social distancing. Source: AAP
Brad Hazzard said being outdoors is the safest place to be right now, so long as people are still careful and maintain social distancing. Source: AAP

Health Minister suggests fines for beachgoers unlikely

Mr Hazzard added that people still need to keep their distance while outside and to remain careful but hinted police would not be seeking to fine those gathering at beaches.

"It has been a tough 20 months and [police] have often had to make decisions on the ground which has been more supportive rather than punitive," he said.

Mr Hazzard said if someone was being "deliberately obstructive" fines would be required.

People flocked to Bondi Beach on Saturday after 1599 new Covid cases were announced. Source: North Bondi RSL
People flocked to Bondi Beach on Saturday after 1599 new Covid cases were announced. Source: North Bondi RSL

"Hopefully they will not need to do that."

Yet in a statement to Yahoo News Australia, Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos said police would be enforcing the Public Health Order at Bondi including gathering limits of two, the 5km rule and mask wearing.

Anticipating larger crowds with the weather, Ms Masselos said council rangers and Covid marshalls were being deployed to remind people of their responsibility.

"We thank the majority of people in our community who abide by the Public Health Orders and we would like to remind everyone to play their part," she said.

Complaints of double standards from authorities

The state's most recent outbreak started in Sydney's eastern suburbs, though the majority of the cases have since been located in Sydney west and southwest.

While residents in LGAs of concern have been subjected to tight lockdown rules, images from one of Australia's most iconic beaches shows people making the most of the pleasant weather – sparking anger online with authorities accused of double standards.

Multiple social media videos showed large crowds at Bondi on Friday and Saturday. Source: TikTok
Multiple social media videos showed large crowds at Bondi on Friday and Saturday. Source: TikTok

Live footage from North Bondi RSL shows large crowds at Bondi Beach early on Saturday, as the temperature hit 26 degrees.

People shared the images of the beach to social media and expressed their displeasure with the turnout.

"On our biggest day of cases, it’s nice to see how out of touch with reality the other half of Sydney are," one person said on Twitter.

One person responded to NSW Health's daily update on Twitter and said Sydney's Northern Beaches were also "packed".

"Beaches are packed on Northern Beaches, no health orders are being enforced, no masks yet case numbers rise, please explain," they said.

While Bondi Beach is not situated in an LGA of concern, people are still required to only leave the house for a reasonable excuse — exercise and outdoor recreation is allowed.

Come Monday, people outside LGAs of concern will be allowed outdoor gatherings of up to five people, so long as everyone in the group over the age of 16 is fully vaccinated.

TikTok videos reveal large crowds at Bondi Friday and Saturday

One TikToker shared footage from the beach at 10am on Saturday and joked lockdown "doesn't exist on a hot day".

Plenty of people are seen lying on the sand at the beach, though it appears many of the people are socially distancing along the shore.

On Friday night, a TikToker reminded people Monday's restriction easing had not arrived yet while sharing video of scores of people sitting and socialising on North Bondi's Grassy Knoll, many without masks.

"Bondi has lost the plot, officially," he said.

One person said they were "mad at first", but they "get it" now.

"We're sick of being inside and I'd be masked and outside every day if I lived there,' they said in the comments.

While some were happy those in the east could enjoy some freedoms, some from Sydney's west were a little disillusioned by the scenes.

"I'm upset because I can't see my family who live in another LGA," they wrote, saying they live in Sydney's west.

"But I'm happy you guys can experience more freedoms than us."

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