Crowds of people thronged outdoors in Sydney on Saturday, enjoying “lockdown” and ignoring pleas to stay at home as NSW struggles to contain the Covid-19 Delta strain spread.
At one venue, Sydney’s Centennial Park, a visitor told news.com.au it was “mayhem” with cars and crowds and that she had “never seen it so busy”.
Sydneysiders seemed to be at odds with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s advice earlier this week to “Please stay at home unless absolutely necessary”.
She hammered home that message again in her Saturday morning press conference announcing 35 new virus cases in NSW, noting that while “the weather is great”, caution was needed.
“ … if you do want relief from your home today, if you have been staying at home and doing the right thing, please avoid shopping centres or indoor areas,” she said today.
“And if you are exercising with people who are not from your household, please make sure you keep that social distance and where you can, if you want to get exercise, please avoid shopping centres or indoor areas.”
But at Centennial Park, where the park’s centre was closed off, people crowded around the edges and customers crammed into the cafe without masks while failing to observe social distancing rules.
“It was busier than the Easter Show,” one park visitor, identified as Natasha, told news.com.au.
“Cars were honking horns, we were getting pushed off the footpaths and on to the horse track.
“It was crazy. I’ve never seen it like that before, even on school sports days.”
At Bondi, which has had more than 70 “venues of concern” listed by NSW Health, including 20 on the “close contacts” list, maskless people strode the promenade by the beach.
In Redfern Park, exercise groups were below the recommended number of ten only, but there were around half a dozen groups training within close quarters of one another.
At Double Bay, a personal training group appeared to have done exactly what Premier Berejiklian warned against: “If you are outdoors exercising in a group of ten, make sure the ten doesn’t become 20”.
Elsewhere in Sydney, including at Flemington Markets, people crowded in to do their Saturday morning shopping, while a news.com.au reader reported that at Darling Square, “every outdoor table and bench is full”, and that Sydney Park was “packed like a normal Saturday”.
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On Twitter, some posters were calling the closures a “Clayton’s lockdown” or questioning why retail stores were still open and adding to the daily expansion of Covid-19 locations.
Locations at Bondi, North Bondi, Bondi Junction and Bondi Beach on the NSW Health list include 39 casual contact listings, six transmission venues of concern and several transport routes.
NSW Police have issued 78 infringement notices to people who have left home for unacceptable reasons, including tourists visiting the Jenolan Caves because they were “bored”.
On Friday, NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said the exposure sites were “shifting”.
“The message is, please don’t go out and about shopping in retail, in any setting, if you have got symptoms,” she said.
“It also highlights the importance, as people are moving around in shopping centres, please do assume that you are next to someone who may have covid and ensure you are wearing a mask at all times.”