Thousands ignore coronavirus social distancing and pack onto Bondi Beach

The Australian government has warned people to keep their distance as the coronavirus pandemic worsens – but thousands completely ignored this advice as they enjoyed a scorching day at the beach on Friday.

Sunbathers at Bondi Beach in Sydney, New South Wales looked like they didn’t have a care in the world as they frolicked in the sea yesterday, despite Covid-19 infecting almost 1,000 people across the country.

It comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that people should keep 1.5 metres away from others while outside.

The politician said for gatherings of less than 100, there should be four square metres provided per person in an enclosed space  – two metres by two metres.

He added: ‘So for example, if you’ve got a room, if you’ve got a premises, if you’ve got a meeting room or something like that, that is 100 square metres, then you can have 25 people in that room.

‘Now, in addition to that, you should continue to practise wherever possible the 1 metre or 1.5 metres of healthy distance between each of us, to ensure that we are limiting the contact and limiting the potential for the spread of the virus.’

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After hearing beachgoers had not taken the new guidelines seriously, South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard reminded Australians that ‘we are in a different time’.

He said people were ‘by all means’ to enjoy the beach and other outdoor areas, but to keep to the health guidelines.

Mr Hazzard told crowds: ‘We are in a different time. We need to behave in different ways and that is to keep your distance. 

‘The recommendation is at least 1.5 metres. That is a sensible recommendation that people should sensibly take on board.’

The health minister also issued a similar warning to churchgoers, saying nobody had seemed aware of the need to socially separate when he attended a recent service.

He said: ’I would just say that it doesn’t matter where you are. Whether you are on Bondi or in a church, separate by 1.5m.’

Australia will lock its borders to non-residents at 9pm today in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19.

It comes as scientists claim social distancing must continue for ‘at least most of a year’ in order to control the pandemic.

Evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), shared by the government on Friday, experts stated that the severity of measures could alternate during this period, but measures would likely need to be enforced for at least half of the year to be effective.

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