'Really crap': Health officer's blunt social distancing message

Victoria's famous beaches – from those on the Great Ocean Road in the west to Phillip Island in the east – have closed in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Surf Coast Shire was among about half a dozen councils to shut down its beaches after people flocked to Ocean Grove, Torquay and Point Addis, in defiance of stern warnings earlier issued by the premier.

People also congregated in groups at Brighton and St Kilda beaches, with the state's chief health officer Brett Sutton branding the behaviour as "crap".

"Some of the behaviour today – when we're asking people to stay home – has been really crap," he wrote in a tweet.

"It's hard to change habits and it's hard to see dangers that aren't apparent yet. But with 3,000 cases of COVID in Australia this week, we're headed to 100,000 in 2-3 weeks without change.

"That means thousands of deaths. Overwhelmed health services. Medical staff at unacceptable risk. Unstoppable spread. Do the right thing now and #StayAtHome. Today. Tomorrow. Until we're through this, please."

People sunbathe at St Kilda Beach in Melbourne with the state's chief health officer Brett Sutton branding the behaviour as "crap". Source: AAP

Fines for breaching social distancing

Premier Daniel Andrews on Saturday introduced on-the-spot fines for people who breach social distancing rules.

Victorians face fines of up to $1652 for gathering in groups and businesses could cop penalties of $9913.

The fines also apply to travellers found to be out-and-about within 14 days of returning from overseas.

Victoria Police said the "vast majority" of people heeded warnings to remain at home, releasing drone footage of quiet inner-city beaches.

Police officers inform beachgoers that the Brighton Beach is closed as on-the-spot fines for people who breach social distancing rules are introduced. Source: AAP

It comes after the total confirmed coronavirus cases in Victoria spiked by 111 to 685 on Saturday, the state's biggest single-day jump during the pandemic.

Of the 685 cases across the state, 191 people have recovered and 21 are in hospital, including three in intensive care.

Those ill with coronavirus range from eight to 88-years-old, with the majority of new cases consisting of people who have travelled overseas or been in close contact of others who have travelled overseas.

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