Beachgoers who appear to be flouting strict COVID -19 restrictions in Victoria by packing onto Melbourne beaches have been warned they have “no right” to “risk everything”.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews asked Melburnians to hold on “just a few more weeks” as he expressed his frustration at the rule breakers putting the state’s hard work at risk, saying “no one has the right” to act unlawfully.
It comes as the state recorded eight new cases and three deaths in the 24 hours to Saturday morning.
Mr Andrews said he understood people were growing increasingly frustrated over lockdown restrictions, but said Victorians risked what could be a better 2021 if they didn’t “hold on” for a few more weeks.
“It’s important no one does anything between now and October 19 to jeapordise everything Victorians have done and sacrificed over the last few months,” Mr Andrews said.
“If we don’t properly defeat this second wave, if we don’t see this through for a few more weeks, then 2021 will not be different and not be better than 2020.
“I don’t want that. Everyone wants to see this done properly. We can’t let frustration get the better of us.”
St Kilda beach was visibly packed on Friday afternoon, as the city reached its warmest temperature in months.
A 7 News reporter found himself in the middle of a rowdy crowd at St Kilda late on Friday. Very few people in the crowd were wearing a mask, which is still a legal requirement when out-and-about.
Footage shows a woman kissing the camera lens, and a man grabbing reporter Paul Dosley and kissing him on the cheek.
The footage was immediately condemned by chief health officer Dr Brett Sutton.
“Don’t risk everything. What we can hold back now means a truly normal summer. Please – Hold. The. Line,” Dr Sutton tweeted while sharing the footage.
At his daily press conference on Saturday, Mr Andrews said if 2021 was to be different to 2020, people needed to “stay the course”.
“The scenes at the beaches overnight are unacceptable. No one has the right to break the rules and put at risk everything decent, law-abiding Victorians have done,” Mr Andrews said.
“The sacrifice has to be worth something. It’s not fair, it’s not lawful.
“It’s understandable that people are angry … We’re so, so close.
“Let’s do everything we can to follow the rules, to defeat this second wave, to see this off and find a COVID-normal for Christmas and summer.”
Dr Sutton said he was “angry” at the scenes at St Kilda, which he said was insulting to people who had worked so hard to stop the spread.
“It’s an insult to everyone who’s done it tough for months and months, for some people to be putting all our gains at risk,” he said.
“It makes me angry to see people breaking the rules.”
Dr Sutton drew attention to the second wave gripping Europe at present, sending countries back into lockdown.
“Europe will be wearing masks for … three years. We can move to a point here where we don’t have to wear masks all the time,” he said.
“We’re not there yet, but we’re close. We’re heading in a very different – albeit fragile – direction to Europe.
“There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Macnamara MP Josh Burns slammed the people on the beach as “selfish”.
“For every business that’s doing it tough in St Kilda, for every family who hasn’t seen a loved one in months – go home,” he tweeted.
“Ignoring health advice doesn’t make you tough, it makes you selfish.”
With the temperature set to reach 28 degrees on Saturday, extra police will be out-and-about ensuring COVID-19 rules are enforced.
It comes less than a week into Melbourne’s second step of the COVID-normal plan, which allowed people to spend two hours outside per day.
Groups of up to five from a maximum of two households are now allowed to meet outside, but only with a five kilometre radius of their homes.
Face masks remain mandatory in metropolitan Melbourne, however many at the beach did not seem to be wearing a face covering.