A former first lady of Australia has copped a brutal backlash online after asking why Sydney sunseekers are not getting locked up simply for being outside.
Therese Rein, the wife of former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, responded to a tweet about how ‘insanely busy’ Balmoral Beach on Sydney’s Lower North Shore was over the weekend, with harsh Covid lockdown restrictions still being in place.
The 63-year-old who was once awarded a medal for her dedication to human rights, demanded to know ‘why are they not being arrested?’
Furious Twitter users immediately pointed out it’s not illegal to be outside with other members of your own household or your ‘singles bubble’ partner for exercise or recreation if you are within 5km of your home and live outside the LGAs of concern in Sydney’s west.
New rules from Monday have eased the restrictions even further allowing up to five fully-vaccinated to locals to meet up outdoors for picnics.
While it’s possible to catch Covid outside, it is extremely rare – with people generally having to be in close proximity – less than two metres – for a ‘significant’ period of time for this to happen.
Therese Rein, the wife of former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, (pictured together in 2018) copped a brutal backlash online after asking why Sydney sunseekers are not being locked for being outside
The 63-year-old who was once awarded a medal for her dedication to human rights demanded to know ‘why are they not being arrested?’
Beachgoers sit and swim at Balmoral Beach (pictured) amid ongoing social restrictions due to the pandemic in Sydney on Sunday
‘Imagine sitting in your mansion in Queensland with Kevin07 calling for people interstate to get arrested for going to the beach,’ one commenter said.
Others wrote: ‘Because they’re not criminals hun’ and ‘because we don’t arrest people for being in a public place that they are permitted to be in’.
‘I know this is challenging for a lot of people to understand. But, after lengthy research into the details of current restrictions, it appears that it is not technically illegal to be outside,’ another said.
Thousands of sun-starved Sydneysiders who’ve been living under stay-at-home orders for more than 13 weeks descended on the city’s beaches over the weekend as temperatures climbed to 30C.
Beaches from Manly in the north to Cronulla in the south saw jam-packed crowds with photos from Bondi and Coogee in the eastern suburbs looking more like snaps taken before the Covid pandemic hit.
The nearby Woollahra Council was even forced to rope off Camp Cove at Watson’s Bay and Redleaf beach at Double Bay, after massive crowds swarmed the popular harbourside spots.
A Twitter user described the weekend scenes at Sydney’ Balmoral Beach as ‘insanely busy’ (pictured on Sunday)
The backlash was immediate from angry Twitter users blasting the former first lady of Australia
Many followed Covid protocols by visiting with just one friend and wearing a mask, but police were out in force reminding sunseekers to follow public health orders – as the number of new coronavirus cases continues to hover between 1200 to 1500 each day.
Photos showed officers approaching scantily-clad Bondi residents to tell them to wear face coverings while they were not swimming, surfing, walking, or jogging.
Sydney residents face $500 fines for not wearing a mask ‘in all indoor or outdoor areas, other than a place of residence’.
But infectious disease professor Peter Collignon said the risks associated with outdoor transmission are actually extremely scarce – about 20 to 30 times lower than indoors.
Police patrolling Coogee Beach on Sunday to ensure sunbathers weren’t defying Covid-19 restrictions
But despite the barrage of criticism levelled at Ms Rein (pictured with Kevin Rudd in 2018) for her hand-cuff happy comments about beachgoers, many on social media agreed with the respected rehabilitation counsellor and social entrepreneur
Police in uniform making sure no one travelled beyond 5km of home to lie on the beach on Sunday morning (pictured, Bondi)
‘Essentially, if you are outdoors and particularly if you keep your distance of two metres, you’re very unlikely to get the virus. If you’re outdoors and you’re closer than that [for significant periods], then wear a mask,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I think we shouldn’t discourage people from going outdoors. It is safer to spend time with your family outdoors than it is indoors.
‘Secondly, there’s an emotional and psychological cost of staying inside for so long.’
But despite the barrage of criticism levelled at Ms Rein for her hand-cuff happy comments about beachgoers, many on social media agreed with the respected rehabilitation counsellor and social entrepreneur.
A number of social media users agreed with Ms Rein saying there is a ‘double standard’ when it comes to Sydney Covid restrictions
‘There’s still a curfew in western Sydney with helicopter fly-overs at dusk!! Unbelievable double standard,’ one person wrote.
Others accused Liberal Party Premier Gladys Berejiklian of ‘giving up’.
Another wrote: ‘Death doesn’t care who you are… this pathogen has been unleashed now… these people will find out soon enough.’
NSW RULES ON EXERCISE AND OUTDOOR RECREATION
Stay within your local government area, or within 5km of your home.
If travelling by a private vehicle, do not share it with people you do not live with, except your ‘singles bubble’ buddy.
You can exercise with one other person that you do not live with, or your ‘singles bubble’ buddy.
If you live with more than two other people, you can all go out together for exercise or recreation
Recreation includes outdoor leisure activities such as sitting for relaxation, or to eat, drink, or read outdoors.
But masks must be worn during outdoor recreation, and at any time when not exercising, and you must have one on you at all times.
From Monday, September 13, up to five fully-vaccinated residents can meet up for picnics outdoors as long as the residents live outside the 12 LGAs of concern in Sydney’s west.
Source: NSW Health