Bondi Beach was packed with hundreds of Sydneysiders and tourists just months after similar scenes sparked its sudden month-long closure.
Hundreds flocked to the world-famous beach on Sunday to soak up the winter sunshine as New South Wales battles to avoid a Victoria-style second wave of coronavirus infections.
The concerning crowds came on the same day Melbourne was forced into stage four lockdown after 671 new cases and seven deaths were recorded in Victoria on Sunday.
The carefree crowds appeared to show little regard for social distancing guidelines as they mingled and sat together in large groups on the grass at the northern end of the beach.
Hundreds soaked up the Sydney sunshine with beachside picnics at Bondi Beach on Sunday
Bondi Beach was packed with Sydneysiders and tourists, some who showed little regard for 1.5m social distancing guidelines
As Melbourne went into a stricter lockdown, Sydneysiders took advantage of their freedom as they flocked to the beach on large social gatherings
Those unable to snare a park bench packed the grassy hill to enjoy the view in large congregations, as many more strolled along the promenade as the temperature reached 19C.
Some revellers were in party mode as they enjoyed a few drinks with their mates.
There appeared to be no police or council rangers ensuring restrictions were being obeyed. The beach is supposed to be restricted to 500 visitors at a time, according to the Waveley Council website.
Very few face masks were seen, despite a plea on Sunday from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian urging everyone to wear one in public settings.
Many congregations were close to the capped government limit of 20 for public gatherings.
Board riders, surfers and swimmers also flocked to the water in large numbers.
Waverley Council’s latest update states its beaches and ocean pools, including Bondi are open for all activities.
‘Visitor numbers at beaches are still restricted to 500 people,’ the website states.
The water was swarming with board riders and surfers at Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach on Sunday
As NSW battles to control a second wave of infections, hundreds flocked to Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach turned into party central with hundreds of picnicking revellers on Sunday afternoon
This woman was enjoying the buzzing vibe at Bondi as she and her mates shared a beachside picnic
Many beaches in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, including Bondi and Coogee were closed indefinitely in March after thousands flocked to the beach and disobeyed social distancing rules.
Beaches were reopened for locals to use only for exercise four weeks later.
NSW recorded 12 new cases on Sunday, a day after the state recorded its first fatality since late May with the death of a 83-year-old man connected to the Crossroads Hotel cluster in south-west Sydney died on Saturday.
Elsewhere in the eastern suburbs, the Watsons Bay Hotel was fined $5000 after inspectors found patrons drinking while standing and poorly-spaced poker machines.
The popular waterside venue is the 15th venue to be penalised for coronavirus safety breaches in the last three weeks.
There were no face masks in sight on a day the NSW Premiers urged everyone to start wearing one in public
The scenes in Bondi are similar to ones earlier in pandemic which saw the beach being shut down for a month
It was hard to find a spare spot to sit and enjoy the sunshine on the grassed hill overlooking Bondi Beach
The carefree crowd appeared to have little concern about the new wave of infections that has hit Sydney
Beachgoers congregated in large public gatherings, which are restricted to a maximum 20 people
While face masks are not mandatory in NSW, the state government has revised its recommendations.
Masks should be worn by public-facing employees such as hospitality or supermarket workers, worshippers and residents of suburbs near COVID-19 clusters, as well as in situations where social distancing is impossible.
‘We have been talking about masks for several weeks but obviously the persistent situation in Victoria gives us cause for alarm in terms of the potential for further seeding in NSW, and it is about risk mitigation strategy,’ Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Sunday.
‘We’re going to the next stage of assessing what else and how else we can decrease the risk and break the current chain coming through NSW.’
‘I want to stress it is not compulsory, but it is a strong recommendation from NSW Health, given where we are in the pandemic, given the risk posed from Victoria and given the rate of community transmission in New South Wales,’ she said.
A group of women took a selfie of surrounded by the massive crowds at the northern end of the beach on Sunday
Locals and visitors flocked to Bondi to get their daily dose of exercise and to catch up friends
As few beachgoers bared to dip their toes in the sand, the grassed hill was swarming with revellers