Covid 19 coronavirus: Sydney beach crowds threaten end to lockdown

Crowds packed beaches and parks across Sydney yesterday, as thousands of residents gathered outside to take advantage of the warm weather.

Despite the lockdown rules explicitly stating that anyone out in these areas must be there for an essential reason, such as exercise, the sunny day proved too tempting, prompting many to test the boundaries of the stay-at-home order.

With another sunny day on the cards today, there are concerns many people may once again defy lockdown orders to soak up the sun, raising fears about what it could mean for the Greater Sydney lockdown.

NSW confirmed 35 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, prompting Premier Gladys Berejiklian to warn people about the importance of following the lockdown rules if they want restrictions to end on time.

“We have a chance to get out of this lockdown as soon as we can, so long as we don’t let our guard down and suddenly let the virus spread today and tomorrow because of the good weather,” she said.

She once again urged residents to follow lockdown rules, saying “let us not give up, but instead keep respecting the stay-at-home orders”.

Sydney’s Centennial Park was packed with cars and people on Saturday. One visitor told reporters it was “mayhem” and she had “never seen it so busy”.

Bondi Beach was packed with people strolling along the promenade and others on the beach and in the water. Crowds were seen ignoring social distancing guidelines outside a Bondi venue.

At Shark Beach in Nielsen Park people were seen sunbathing, sleeping and reading books, according to The Daily Telegraph, in clear defiance of signs that said no sitting was permitted.

In Redfern Park and Double Bay, training groups were seen working in close proximity, while others ballooned past the 10-person limit.

At Flemington Markets, people crowded in to do their Saturday morning shopping, while a resident reported that at Darling Square, “every outdoor table and bench is full”, and that Sydney Park was “packed like a normal Saturday”.

There is a lot of speculation about whether the Greater Sydney lockdown will end on time or whether it will be extended past July 9.

Associate Professor at the University of Sydney Centre for International Security Studies, Adam Kamradt-Scott, believes there is a certain trigger point NSW’s outbreak will need to reach by Wednesday in order to avoid a longer lockdown.

Kamradt-Scott said authorities need to look at the cumulative caseload and how dispersed the infections are.

“If we see multiple new clusters of cases appearing in multiple locations around the city, you can appreciate the government will most likely extend the lockdown,” he said.

“But if we’ve only got conceivably a very small number, like in the low tens linked to just one cluster… the government [might] move towards relaxing that.”

Berejiklian said yesterday it was “too soon” to tell whether Sydney’s lockdown would end as planned, though she was confident the “tide is turning” in the city’s outbreak.

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