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Brisbane market goers ignores social distancing measures



Brisbane residents flocked to a popular farmers’ markets this morning, brazenly defying the strict social distancing measures enforced to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Large crowds were photographed attending the Jan Powers Powerhouse Farmers’ Markets in the inner city suburb of New Farm, with a number of attendees reportedly defying the 1.5m rules imposed by the federal government.

It comes as residents of Sydney’s beachside suburb of Manly were seen flocking to the seafront on Friday, with many of those in groups larger than two.

The organisers of the weekly market in Brisbane sent out instructions on Facebook on Friday saying the event would be going ahead but would be adhering to the rules by “putting in all precautions in regard to COVID-19”.

One of those was an instruction to keep a distance of 1.5m between each guest, which did not appear to be followed according to images from today’s market.

Other measures put in place were vendors pre-bagging produce to limit distance and interaction with consumers, as well as food stalls selling takeaway food only, guests limited to one person per household, and seating in public areas prohibited.

One passer-by told the Courier Mail large groups were clearly breaking the social distancing practices, many of those including elderly people who are known to be vulnerable to the deadly virus.

“It’s insane,” the woman told the Brisbane-based newspaper.

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“I couldn’t believe it. What is wrong with people?”

“And they were not staying 1.5m from each other either. Not at all. I was really shocked.”

The market is classified as an essential service under the ambiguous guidelines from the government to shutdown the country while in the grips of the pandemic.

Nonetheless, markets have to abide by strict spacing requirements and must not become crowded.

“People visiting markets should use common sense when practising social distancing and maintaining social interactions, avoiding unnecessary contact and moving 1.5 metres from other people where possible,” he said.

The disregard for the rules comes just a day after hundreds of Sydneysiders and tourists were spotted on the Manly beach footpaths as well as dozens surfing and splashing in the water.

Beaches to the south of the harbour were forced to close after crowds continued to flout social distancing rules at sites including Bondi, which has since become a hotspot for the spread of the deadly virus.

In New South Wales leaving your house without a “reasonable excuse” could result in a fine of up to $11,000 and/or six months in jail.

There are currently 16 reasonable excuses you can have for leaving home, including getting food, travelling for work, exercise, donating blood and accessing public services.

Yesterday NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said people still seemed to be struggling to understand what constitutes exercise.

“In terms of the new isolation powers, there are certainly lots of questions about exercise. I don’t get it,” he said at a press conference, adding the government wanted people to stay physically and psychologically fit and healthy.

“But of course if I said that it’s OK to sit on a park bench, then everyone is going to go to the park. We’re going to end up where we started. On a hot day at Bondi Beach a couple of weekends ago, one person said they were going to go for a swim and we ended up with 10,000 people.”

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