Thousands of sunseeekers eager for a taste of summer after months of coronavirus restrictions have flocked to the sand at beaches across the country – as temperatures soar to kick-off the long weekend in many states.
But beachgoers have been warned to follow social distancing guidelines in their states or risk being shutout from the sand.
The mercury climbed towards 30C in Melbourne on Saturday – leading crowds to head to the water at St Kilda only to be met with an increased police presence after rowdy beach partygoers on Friday were slammed by Victoria’s Premier and Chief Health Officer.
Daniel Andrews hinted on Saturday morning that Victoria’s beaches could be plunged back into lockdown if crowds continued to ignore precautions such as face masks and social distancing.
He said while beach closures were the responsibility of police, authorities were ‘well aware’ of gatherings after Melburnians hit the coast to let off steam after weeks of strict Stage Four lockdowns were slightly eased.
Victoria Police patrol at St Kilda beach on Saturday (pictured). Coronavirus restrictions eased slightly across Melbourne from Monday 28 September as Victoria enters into its second step in the government’s roadmap to reopening. The overnight curfew no longer applies. Up to five people from no more than two households are able to gather outside
In Sydney, temperatures in the high 20s after a few days of mild weather sent hundreds flocking to the city’s eastern suburbs – with Waverley Council, which includes Bondi (pictured), Coogee, and Tamarama beaches, warning crowds that the COVID-19 pandemic remains a threat
People gathering at St Kilda beach on Friday in Melbourne, Australia. Coronavirus restrictions eased slightly across Melbourne from Monday 28 September as Victoria enters into its second step in the government’s roadmap to reopening
In Sydney, temperatures in the high 20s after a few days of mild weather sent hundreds flocking to the city’s eastern suburbs – with Waverley Council, which includes Bondi, Coogee, and Tamarama beaches, warning crowds that the COVID-19 pandemic remains a threat.
There are no restrictions on going to the beach in New South Wale, but there is a 20-person limit to group sizes, and residents have been encouraged to social distance and wear face masks while in crowded areas.
Waverley Council, which includes Sydney’s Bondi Beach, issued a warning to beachgoers ahead of the long weekend urging crowds to maintain COVID-19 precautions.
Darwin hit 34C, while Adelaide and Brisbane also experienced scorchers on Saturday with temperatures of 28C and 27C respectively causing people to head to the water in droves – with Adelaide’s Glenelg, Brisbane’s Southbank, and the Gold and Sunshine Coasts seeing large crowds.
New South Wales, South Austraila, and the Australian Capital Territory have a three day weekend with Labour Day on Monday, while Queensland also has Monday off to celebrate the Queen’s Birthday.
The other state’s will be watching how Victoria in particular deals with crowds eager to get back outside to beaches after weeks of heavy Stage Four lockdowns were enforced to halt a second wave of COVID-19.
Victoria’s St Kilda was packed with large groups on Friday afternoon, many of whom seemed unconcerned with physical distancing, leading Premier Daniel Andrews to float the idea of closing beaches.
Footage from Friday showed crowds standing shoulder-to-shoulder and not wearing masks – with one Seven Network reporter being grabbed and kissed in the commotion.
Hundreds of people keen for a breather after the city’s strict Stage Four lockdowns hit St Kilda beach on Friday (pictured)
Victoria’s St Kilda was packed with large groups on Friday afternoon, some of whom seemed unconcerned with physical distancing, leading Premier Daniel Andrews to float the idea of closing beaches
Mr Andrews said closing beaches would be a decision Victoria Police would make as the summer months approached but would not say whether he thought officers should have broken apart Friday’s crowds.
Speaking on Saturday, he did add that police were ‘aware’ of the beach gatherings and maintained a ‘steely determination to make sure people are following the rules’.
‘There is a substantial additional police presence out there making sure that these coronavirus rules are enforced,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘It was very disappointing, and I’m sure the cause of much anger across the community about what happened there last night,’ he said.
‘It was not just there, however, there were reports of similar activity and other beaches and in other places. But let’s not detract from the fact that the vast majority of Victorians are doing quite an amazing job.’
Bondi Beach (pictured) in Sydney packed with sunseekers enjoying the warmer weather has led to a warning being issued about crowds by Waverley Council
Footage from St Kilda on Friday showed crowds standing shoulder-to-shoulder and not wearing masks – with one Seven Network reporter being grabbed and kissed in the commotion
Police were out in force at St Kilda on Saturday after rowdy crowds the previous day were slammed by the Premier
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton had earlier issued plea for Melburnians not ‘risk everything’ by gathering in large numbers on beaches over the next few weeks.
‘Don’t risk everything. What we can hold back now means a truly normal summer. Please – Hold. The. Line,’ Prof Sutton tweeted on Saturday.
After two months of tough lockdown, many Melbourne residents rushed to get out and party in the sun as temperatures climbed towards 30 degrees on Friday.
They packed Williamstown, St Kilda and Port Melbourne beaches for their two hours of exercise time.
Professor Sutton retweeted footage from 7NEWS Melbourne along with his warning.
Reporter Paul Dowsley broadcast disturbing footage from St Kilda Beach of hundreds of young people cavorting without masks, shouting for joy and not respecting social distancing rules.
Some unmasked revellers swarmed him as he did his live cross., with one woman squealing in delight, ran up and kissed the camera, planting lip gloss on the lens.
A young man without a mask ran up and grabbed the reporters shoulder, kissed the side of his neck twice, then patted the top of his head and kissed the back of it, too.
People thronged to St Kilda beach at sunset on Friday, ignoring coronavirus restrictions
Crowds in St Kilda were more subdued on Saturday as police were visible patrolling the area
A beachgoer jumps on a 7News reporter after a live cross, while others cheer around him, as several mask-free people flock to St. Kilda’s beach on Friday
Authorities fear the coronavirus will once again break out unless people stick to the social distancing rules under Step Two of the roadmap out of coronavirus lockdown.
Victoria has recorded eight new coronavirus cases and three deaths after a top health expert issued a warning to partygoers.
The new figures reported on Saturday pushed the 14-day rolling average of coronavirus cases in Melbourne down to 12 and 0.1 in regional Victoria.
There were also just 11 coronavirus cases from an unknown source, down from 14 on Friday.
With temperatures warming up as the country heads into the summer , the states and territories will be looking closely at how well Melbourne handles the increased public crowds.
A possible third-wave of the virus could send Victorians into an extended lockdown and risk exporting cases to other states who will be dealing with their own summer crowds.
Sydney is expected to hit 27C on Sunday and 29C on Monday, with residents keen to make the most of their three-day weekend.
Waverely Council released a warning for prospective beachgoers.
‘If you’re planning on heading down to the beach to cool off as the weather warms up this long weekend, make sure you stay COVID safe by social distancing and limiting gatherings to 20 people or less,’ the council said.
Victoria has so far been on track in beating the coronavirus thanks to the strict lockdown. Experts fear the partying beachgoers (St Kilda pictured) could reverse this progress
Authorities in Sydney are worried beaches will reach capacity due to the scorching conditions – with the October Long Weekend already heating up. Pictured: A sign at Bondi Beach reminds visitors to social distance
Brisbane will reach a maximum of 27C over the three-day break, while Adelaide is expected to hit 29C on Saturday before dropping to the high teens for the remainder of the break.
Darwin will be hot with a max of 34C and Hobart’s temperature ranges between 15C and 20C for the weekend. The forecast in Perth will hover around the 20C mark.
Victoria has so far been on track and ahead of schedule in beating the coronavirus as the strict lockdowns worked to control the spread.
For restrictions to ease to Step Three, Melbourne’s 14-day average must fall below five, with less than five mystery cases for a fortnight.
Under current Step Two rules, people are only able to gather in maximum groups of five, from two households.
They need to be keeping to the 1.5m social distancing rule, and wearing the compulsory facemasks.
Premier Daniel Andrews increased fines for those who flout the restrictions on gatherings from $1652 to $4957 as the Stage Two easings came into effect on Monday.
Beachgoers are seen enjoying warmer weather at Curl Curl beach on Saturday 2020 in Sydney
Melbourne residents couldn’t contain their joy on Friday at the slight easing of restrictions and the warm weather. They have been on tough Stage Four lockdown since August 2
Victoria Police patrol at St Kilda beach on October 03, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. Coronavirus restrictions eased slightly across Melbourne from Monday 28 September as Victoria enters into its second step in the government’s roadmap to reopening
Fines for those who flout the restrictions on gatherings have been increased to $4957 (Melbourne’s busy St Kilda beach pictured on Friday)
THREE DAY WEATHER FORECAST
SUN: Min 14, Max 27. Sunny.
MON: Min 16, Max 29. Sunny.
TUES: Min 13 Max 20 Showers.
SUN: Min 17, Max 27. Late rain. Wind easing.
MON: Min 9, Max 15. Rain easing.
TUES: Min 8 Max 15 Cloudy
SUN: Min 15, Max 19. Rain.
MON: Min 9, Max 17. Possible shower.
TUES: Min 7 Max 18 Cloudy
SUN: Min 9, Max 26. Sunny.
MON: Min 12, Max 23. Showers increasing.
TUES: Min 8 Max 14 Showers
SUN: Min 17, Max 27. Partly cloudy.
MON: Min 17, Max 27. Partly cloudy.
TUES: Min 16 Max 28 Partly cloudy
SUN: Min 7, Max 21. Partly cloudy.
MON: Min 7, Max 22. Sunny.
TUES: Min 8 Max 23 Sunny
SUN: Min 11, Max 15. Rain.
MON: Min 7, Max 15. Shower or two.
TUES: Min 5 Max 17 partly cloudy
SUN: Min 24, Max 34. Mostly sunny.
MON: Min 24, Max 33. Shower or two. Storm likely.
TUES: Min 24 Max 33 Shower or two. Storm likely.
SOURCE: Bureau of Meteorology