Australia could deport hundreds of Brits after 'super-spreader' party
Hundreds of backpackers risk being stripped of their visas and deported from Australia after a huge party was thrown on a beach on Christmas Day.
Shocking footage from Sydney shows around 300 people, many believed to be British travellers, chanting next to Bronte Beach wearing Santa hats and what appear to be England football shirts.
Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke said he was ‘shocked’ would be ‘very happy’ to deport those caught disobeying public health orders in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
‘Absolutely, under the migration act, if someone is threatening public safety or health, their visa can be cancelled and revoked,’ Mr Hawke said on 2GB this morning.
‘We don’t want to have public health and safety jeopardised by a small group of people who are not respecting the country that they’ve come to.
‘They know the situation in their home countries is worse in many respects.
‘There are many options available to the department. You can put them into immigration detention… however… we’re very happy to deport people, if people are flagrantly disobeying public health orders.’
He said there are still chartered flights to deport people even as most outward international flights are banned during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The video shows hundreds of revellers jumping together, cheering and drinking out of red cups with a lack of social distancing.
Many people expressed their anger at the flouting of Covid-19 restrictions.
‘You could hear lots of clearly English accents, and several people were wearing the white English football jerseys,’ Peter Hannam, from Sydney, told the BBC after seeing the crowds while on a walk with his family.
Stuart Crabb, from Bronte, shared footage of the revellers to Instagram, captioned: ‘Not sure these peeps got the Covid memo.’
Australian TV weather presenter Josh Holt tweeted: ‘I just don’t get it… Bronte Beach in Sydney today.
‘How can some people be this selfish when so many others. are doing the right thing and sacrificing so much. Makes me sad.’
Another wrote: ‘I’ve lost all faith in humanity (not that I had much) after the Bronte Beach thing on Christmas Day.’
Journalist Eliza Barr wrote: ‘My grandparents in their late 80s couldn’t see half of their grandchildren yesterday and there’s people on the northern beaches separated from their families and confined to their homes indefinitely but I’m glad the main characters at the Bronte beach party had fun.’
Another tweeted: ‘I would really just like to see our family and friends interstate some time soon, then I see the scene from Bronte Beach yesterday and I realise that it’s doubtful the other states will open to us any time soon.’
And at least 40 people attended a house party in North Bondi on Boxing Day, which resulted in 11 people being fined $1,000 (£562.76) each.
Mr Hawke warned people fined could also be deported if they are identified as a backpacker or someone on a temporary visa.
‘There have been a couple of incidents (Bronte and North Bondi),’ he added.
‘Sydneysiders would agree 10 months into a pandemic, we all know the drill now, we all understand how difficult this has been around the world, we understand why we have to be doing what we’re doing.
‘People who are guests in our country also have to be doing the right thing.’
Mr Hawke said people must abide by Covid-19 rules on New Years Eve and New Years Day.
‘It’s not okay to treat this New Years Day as normal. We know the public health orders are saying there are restrictions in place,’ he said.
‘Temporary visa holders must obey those restrictions and public health orders the same as anyone else.
‘I’ve instructed the Department of Home Affairs to work closely with NSW authorities in the lead-up to New Year’s Day as well to make sure everyone is doing the right thing and if anyone caught doing the wrong thing, that their visa status is brought before the government.’
New South Wales police said no fines were issued at the huge beach gathering but one man was fined later that day when he was at a different event.
Spokesperson Scott Willis told the BBC: ‘It’s not always possible to take action against everyone there.’
New South Wales state health minister Brad Hazzard claimed the ‘super-spreader event’ undermined efforts to keep Covid-19 under control.
It comes as Sydney is battling a new outbreak of the virus with restrictions in the city – including a lockdown of the Northern Beaches – as the outbreak totals 129 cases.
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