Not a single fine was dished out among the hundreds of partygoers who flocked to Bond Beach on Saturday evening despite footage on social media showing revellers ignoring physical distancing and mask wearing rules, with many in groups far larger than the five allowed at fully-vaccinated picnics.
The pictures and video shared online who hundreds of people gathering in groups, drinking and enjoying themselves on the famous grassy area of Biddigal Reserve on the northern end of the beach with the crowd only growing as the night went on.
By late evening the police had arrived causing hundreds to pack up and leave, but no fines were issued, despite Sydneysiders living in the city’s west describing being fined for the smallest of rule-breaks.
Paula Masselos, the Mayor of Waverley Council, said it was ‘disappointing’ and ‘frustrating’ that noone had been fined.
Not one fine was issued among the hundreds of partygoers who packed Bondi (pictured) on Saturday despite 216 infringement notices being dished out elsewhere by NSW Police
‘I’m certainly exasperated … It is really frustrating that there is a small group of people that is imperilling our community,’ she told the ABC.
‘Our rangers are doing the very best they can but we don’t have any powers to move people on,’ she said.
‘And I do have to thank the police as they were down there and had dispersed people within an hour but they shouldn’t have to do that.’
‘Officers attached to Eastern Suburbs and Northern Beaches Police Area Commands attended local beaches on Saturday after reports crowd numbers were increasing,’ a NSW Police spokesperson said.
‘Police, alongside local council rangers, patrolled the area and dispersed the crowd.’
Under Sydney’s current restrictions a maximum of five fully-vaccinated people can gather outdoors.
The photos of Bondi sparked fierce backlash online as police have for weeks been cracking down in other areas of Sydney including the long-suffering south and west which are under harsher restrictions than elsewhwere.
‘This is double standard purely unfair for hard-working other parts of Sydney.’ one person said.
Others said Western Sydney residents were being treated like they were ‘second class citizens’.
On Saturday, police said they issued 216 fines to those breaking the public health order rules in areas other than Bondi.
‘At Manly, a number of move-on directions were issued along with three infringement notices for breaches of the Public Health Order.’ the spokesperson said.
And they added patrols would continue as ‘part of Operation Stay at Home at Sydney beaches, parks and open recreational spaces across the weekend to ensure compliance with the current orders’.
Crowds at Bondi were similar on Friday.
Friday evening in Bondi was the same with hundreds of frustrated residents packing the foreshore with many not wearing masks or observing physical distancing (pictured)
Footage taken about 6pm at the famous grassy knoll in North Bondi showed locals gathering in large groups overlooking the beach – with no police in sight.
By 7.30pm officers had arrived to break up the festivities – with hundreds packing up and leaving the park.
But the scenes weren’t just confined to Sydney’s east, with big crowds on the northern beaches also packing Manly Beach foreshore for Friday evening drinks with friends.
And while video footage captured crowds at the beaches, similar scenes were played out on a balmy September evening across much of Sydney, with NSW now just 16 days away from lockdown restrictions easing once 70 per cent of NSW’s population over 16 is fully-vaccinated.
Until the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ – currently due to be October 11, but subject to change – residents are only allowed to gather in groups up to five in outdoor public spaces if they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Many who are banned from leaving their own local government areas in western Sydney were furious after the images from Manly and Bondi Beach emerged on Friday night.
‘What is happening along Bondi and other places in the east is an absolute joke,’ one said.
‘What a slap in the face to us sacrificing by doing the right things out west. We either have rules or we don’t? Who’s checking their vax status? Who’s policing RSA? What a double standard!’
Another Sydneysider could not understand why those gathered in Bondi and Manly weren’t being more heavily monitored by police.
Many of the city’s residents doing it tough during lockdown reacted with outrage after images from Manly and Bondi Beach emerged on Friday night
‘Tell me how I got fined $1000 two nights ago for forgetting to check in at a 7-Eleven -with my mask on – across from my house and these people are allowed to do this in Bondi,’ one said.
Another claimed authorities were picking and choosing where to enforce the lockdown, and suggested locals on the beaches were being left alone because of new ‘picnic’ rules allowing groups of up to five to gather outside if they are double-jabbed.
‘I love a Friday night ‘picnic’ in North Bondi with the Sydney lockdown now elective,’ they wrote.
Hundreds of people turned out for picnics (pictured) on Friday night in Bondi with police dispersing the crowd about 7.30pm
The government’s roadmap to freedom allows a moderate easing of restrictions when the double-dose rate hits 70 per cent including the return of pubs, gyms and hair salons with strict density requirements.
International travel and interstate travel may also be on the cards for those who have been double jabbed alongside larger community events such as sport.
NSW reported 961 new locally acquired cases on Sunday.
About 84 per cent of those over 16 have have received one dose of vaccine, with 56 per cent fully vaccinated.
NSW is on track to hit 80 per cent fully vaccinated just two weeks after the first 70 per cent milestone is due to be reached on October 11.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) warned opening up the state will be done with caution to avoid an influx of cases being hospitalised
Many Western Sydney residents complained of double standards with police more relaxed in the eastern suburbs
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned that opening up the state could cause an influx of cases in hospital so caution needed to be taken during the easing of restrictions.
‘I am always wary of using terms like ‘freedom day’ because when we start to open up it must be step-by-step,’ she said during Friday’s press conference.
‘It must be done cautiously and we must remember that even though people may be fully vaccinated, if you are vulnerable and have other conditions you can still succumb and get the disease in a serious way, or worse.’
‘We are seeing case numbers in southwest and western Sydney continue to have a downward trend but unfortunately in the Illawarra and Central Coast we are seeing more case numbers than we would like,’ Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters.
It comes after data published by NSW Health in recent days shows contact tracers are interviewing positive cases more quickly.
The number of people to be fully interviewed by contact tracers within a day of their positive result nearly doubled last week, the data reveals.
Contact tracers fully interviewed 58 per cent of new cases within one day of notification in the week ending September 20.
The week before, tracers only reached 31 per cent of people within that time frame. It is the first time that metric has surpassed 50 per cent since the end of August.
There were 8226 cases in the week ending September 20, 1326 fewer than the week before.
The number of people infected on average by each positive case in that week – known as the average growth factor – dipped to 0.98, falling below one for the first time since the current outbreak began in mid-June.
Greater Sydney has now been in lockdown for more than 13 weeks.