Carefree backpackers at a Bondi unit block continue to defy COVID-19 rules by holding house parties, their neighbours have claimed, just days after they were filmed drinking in their backyard until the early hours.
The video of more than a dozen partygoers crammed into a yard at the base of a block of flats at the eastern Sydney suburb last week outraged Australians, most who are abiding by strict social distancing orders amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Like many unit blocks across the city, the two neighbouring buildings are separated by only a few metres, meaning sound travels easily.
That is made worse by the fact the six units in the party block are home to a total of 48 tenants – all on working or tourist visas – who are in Australia to socialise and travel the country.
A group of young European partygoers was filmed ignoring all COVID-19 social distancing rules as they crammed together for a barbecue in a Bondi apartment last Tuesday night
But despite signs urging them to keep quiet on every floor, the backpackers continue to have little regard for their neighbours, leading a spiteful confrontation on Wednesday.
In footage taken just before 3pm, residents were heard yelling at the backpackers, asking them to turn down their music.
One neighbour, who has lived near the Ocean Street flats for more than a decade, told Daily Mail Australia the parties have continued after last week’s alarming footage emerged.
But she said she was particularly disappointed that even during a global pandemic, the rowdy bunch wouldn’t be more considerate.
‘The photos that were shared last week, that was of a calm party, but it’s gotten a lot of attention because everyone is trying to do the right thing at the minute,’ she said.
‘I’ve lived here for about 11 years now and over the past 18 months it’s just gotten way worse.’
Pictured: The backyard of a unit currently housing a group of backpackers in Bondi
Residents in the unit block have been criticised for partying and ignoring social distancing policies
‘I yelled out at them today because they were blasting music, but it doesn’t do much at all most of the time, they’ll be back partying in a few days.’
The woman, who chose to remain anonymous, said she calls police at least once a week, but could be making complaints more frequently.
‘It’s worse at the minute because people are working from home and I know one girl said she was in a work meeting and was asked: “What’s all that noise?”‘
The majority of backpackers in the party block come from South America, Europe or the United Kingdom on short term visas.
Often working part-time or casual jobs, they cram up to three people into a room in a bid to save on rent.
Jamie, a resident of the party block, argues that the group are being vilified unnecessarily.
She believes the response from their neighbours and the media attention is unfair and has been blown completely ‘out of proportion.’
Previous footage showed more than a dozen people crammed into one of the relatively small backyards despite limits restricting how many guests people can have over
Pictured: The front of the building block housing backpackers in Sydney’s east
‘I think that (last week’s party) was blown out of proportion. What you’ll actually find is these places are really big and hold eight people each, so it seems like there’s a lot of people partying but they’re all residents,’ she said.
‘It’s not like there were people coming from all over Bondi, it was just a mix of people in the apartments.
‘There are signs up about noise but that’s from New Year’s Eve. I mean there can be a lot of noise, but I think it’s not as bad as it’s made out to be.’
Just last week, neighbours were left reeling when they caught a group of at least 14 men and women crammed into the backyard of one of the apartments.
The group appeared alarmed when they realised they were being filmed, and several partygoers quickly alerted the others in Spanish that they were being watched.
The man who took the video told Daily Mail Australia: ‘I asked them if they thought this was a joke and that coronavirus is serious.
‘I brought information about coronavirus to them and they just didn’t care.’
Residents of the block of units where Tuesday night’s party took place have been repeatedly warned about noise coming from their apartments. However the social distancing rules were only being ignored in the one flat
Neighbours said residents of the Ocean Street premises and their visitors were mainly Spanish, French and British.
Spain has 141,942 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 14,045 fatalities, France has 109,069 cases and 10,328 deaths, while the UK’s equivalent figures are 55,242 and 6,159.
In the video at least 14 people are sitting and standing around – some drinking Corona beers – until one of them spots a camera being used to film over their fence.
‘Hello! You cannot take pictures,’ a woman clutching a beer bottle yells out as she laughs.
Another woman then alerts the rest of the crowd saying in Spanish: ‘Somebody’s taking pictures, look.’
A third woman in the backyard covers her face while someone else in the background says ‘Que pasa?’ (‘What’s happening?’) and several revellers inside the apartment get off a couch.
The group is ignoring all social distancing rules while one of them mans the barbecue
NSW Police statement about the Bondi party
About 9.15pm police were alerted to a social gathering at a block of units at Ocean Street, Bondi.
Police attended and spoke with a man at the premises who told them a group had earlier met in the backyard for drinks. The group had since dispersed.
Officers reinforced social distancing rules with the man and he was given a warning to comply with the government’s current advise regarding gatherings.
Source: NSW Police Force
A man then walks from the loungeroom out into the backyard and puts his hand over the camera’s lens, saying ‘None of us are sick, it’s all fine’.
Real estate advertisements suggest about seven residents are paying $250 a week to live in the three-bedroom fully-furnished apartment.
A New South Wales police spokeswoman said officers were alerted to a ‘social gathering’ at the apartment block about 9.15pm.
‘Police attended and spoke with a man at the premises who told them a group had earlier met in the backyard for drinks,’ the spokeswoman said. ‘The group had since dispersed.
‘Officers reinforced social distancing rules with the man and he was given a warning to comply with the government’s current advise regarding gatherings.’
The neighbour who took the video lived nearby with his partner and wished to remain anonymous.
‘On Friday night they had a big party but last night there was proper music and people walking in and out of the apartment block,’ he said.
There were 6,024 confirmed coronavirus cases in Australia and 50 deaths as of Wednesday night
Bondi has been a coronavirus hotspot where police have had to force backpackers and others off the sand. Bondi Beach is pictured as it was being closed on March 21
Several of the partygoers realise they are being filmed and alert all the others as one of their number approaches the back fence
‘Other residents were looking from the street and wondering what was going on and I’d had enough of the noise.
‘So I walked behind the red brick building and decided to take a video of them.
‘The funniest part was that the guys were super apologetic and admitted they were throwing a house party for a girlfriend who was leaving the country tomorrow. But the girls went crazy.
‘The noise has been a big issue on the street for a long time. Look I like a party and they’re here for a limited time and just want to have fun… but it’s selfish.’
Another neighbour, who asked not to be named, said he had been living in the building behind the party flat for a week and already noticed raucous behaviour.
‘They are usually really loud in their rooms… there can be four or five of them shouting at each one,’ he said.
‘I remember it being very loud last night for sure, it spilled into the backyard. I know a lot of people in the building think it’s a problem.’
The incident was just one of a string of blatant breaches of COVID-19 social distancing rules observed among young people in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
A man who has walked out from the loungeroom puts his hand over the camera’s lens, saying ‘None of us are sick, it’s all fine’
A garbage bins sits outside the party flat in Ocean Street at Bondi (left) and a lane which leads down to where the party was held (right)
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 6,010
New South Wales: 2,734
South Australia: 420
Western Australia: 481
Australian Capital Territory: 99
Northern Territory: 28
TOTAL CASES: 6,024
Bondi locals getting tested for coronavirus at the suburb’s free pop up clinic have vented their anger at backpackers throwing parties.
Residents lined up at the eight testing centres set up by nurses at St Vincent’s Hospital inside Bondi Pavilion last Wednesday to get tested for COVID-19 after authorities declared the trendy seaside suburb a hotspot for the virus.
One woman who lives with one housemate and wanted to stay anonymous said that backpackers should just return to their own countries.
‘I’ve seem them out and about not caring, plenty of them flouting the rules,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
Paul Dias, the owner of Beach Fit in Bondi, decided to get tested as a precautionary measure.
‘Some people just don’t care,’ he said. ‘Backpackers, it’s not their country but they just want to keep on partying. It’s just unfair.
‘They are still partying at night, on rooftops, and there are like 60 people. They think they might not get it but everyone can get it. Young people are dying from it.’
Ocean swimmer Peter Howard, 81, believed the pop up clinic was a good idea, and while backpackers were good people, ‘they do live like sardines’.
St Vincents’ pop up clinic in Bondi specifically for testing high-risk sections of the Bondi community
The images in the Bondi apartment were taken less than 24 hours after NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard signed the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020.
Individuals now face on-the-spot fines of $1,000 and maximum penalties of $11,000 or six months in jail if they are outside unless they are going to work and can’t work remotely by computer, are attending school, are buying medical supplies or are shopping for groceries or food.
It’s legal to exercise at the park but apparently not to linger in a public place.
Australians are only allowed to gather outside in groups of two.
There are exceptions if people live together or are moving.
The situation is so bad at Bondi the state government and St Vincent’s Hospital are this afternoon setting up a pop-up COVID-19 clinic at the beachside Pavilion (grass area nearby pictured on March 31, 2020)
Tough new coronavirus restrictions explained
Only two people should gather in public spaces and ‘other areas of gathering: Households – no matter how large – can still go outside together, but individual people can only meet with one other person. The two-person limit doesn’t apply to workplaces, schools or households.
Moratorium on evictions from rental properties for the next six months: Scott Morrison said State and Territories will be moving to ban landlords from evicting tenants who are struggling to pay rent. Mr Morrison urged landlords to work with their tenants and banks on immediate solutions.
Playgrounds, skate parks, and outdoor gyms will be closed from Monday: Boot camps will be reduced to one-on-one outdoor personal training sessions.
Australians urged to only shop for the essentials and nothing more: Mr Morrison reminded people it isn’t a time for browsing or catching up with friends. ‘When you are going out for shopping, you should be going for just stuff you need and do it and get home,’ he said.
People aged over 70 or having chronic illnesses are discouraged from leaving their homes: Mr Morrison said elderly people should only go outside for doctor’s appointments or medical reasons. He said vulnerable groups who need help with shopping should access ‘support through their community or others’.
WHAT CAN I LEAVE MY HOUSE FOR?
Buying essential supplies: Scott Morrison said shopping should be done solo and not turned into impromptu gatherings.
Going to work, if unable to work from home: Australians who have the ability to work from home are strongly advised to do so. Those who can’t must follow social distancing measures when at their place of work.
Exercise: People working out should still follow the two-person limit. All boot camps of 10 people or less have effectively been banned.
To attend personal medical appointments, or for compassionate reasons: Elderly people in particular should only go outside for doctor’s appointments or medical reasons.
CAN I VISIT FAMILY MEMBERS?
Yes, however social distancing measures should still be adhered to.
A family split across two houses can meet in private, allowing people to visit their partner, siblings or parents.
People who live alone can only invite one friend over, while households of two people or more can’t have any visitors.
WHAT ABOUT HOUSEHOLDS WITH MORE THAN TWO PEOPLE?
Households – no matter how large – can still go outside together, but individual people can only meet with one other person.
If four people live together in a house, all four of them can take their dog for a walk.
The two-person limit doesn’t apply to workplaces, schools or households.
CAN OLDER PEOPLE GO OUT IN PUBLIC?
Elderly people are allowed to go outside for the same reasons as young people, but Scott Morrison has urged those over the age of 70 to self-isolate unless going to a medical appointment.
‘This does not mean they cannot go outside,’ Mr Morrison said on Sunday.
‘They can go outside and be accompanied by a support person for the purposes of getting fresh air and recreation, but should limit contact with others as much as possible.’
CAN I GO TO A WEDDING OR A FUNERAL?
Last week’s rules pertaining to weddings and funerals haven’t changed.
Funerals are still limited to 10 people and weddings to five – including the officiator and the bride and groom.
WHEN DO THE NEW MEASURES COME INTO EFFECT?
The two-person rule will begin on Monday, while playgrounds, outdoor gyms and skate parks will be closed at midday.
‘Make your way home’: Prime Minister Scott Morrison orders tourists to get out of the country amid the coronavirus pandemic
All tourists and foreign students who are unable to support themselves financially during the coronavirus pandemic have been told to go home by Scott Morrison.
The prime minister said that while ‘it is lovely to have visitors in good times’, now is the time for them to leave so officials can focus on supporting Australians in need.
It is likely a difficult position for Mr Morrison to take, given his previous role as director of Tourism Australia, where he famously hired Lara Bingle to help lure travellers in.
But now ministers are focused on helping to keep Australians afloat, pledging $130 billion for a JobKeepers package for workers, many of whom faced losing their jobs.
His call comes to foreign nationals who are unable to support themselves financially during the pandemic – saying they are not ‘being held here’ and should leave.
A group of backpackers (pictured) were seen leaving Bondi on Friday, shortly after Scott Morrison announced that travellers with no financial support should go home
Young sunseekers at St Kilda beach (pictured) on March 27, despite strict social distancing rules to stop the spread of COVID-19. Police have broken up several backpacker parties
Shocking pictures this week showed large groups of backpackers flagrantly disregarding strict social distancing rules, designed to stop the virus spreading.
‘These (student) visas, and those who are in Australia under various visa arrangements, they are obviously not held here compulsorily,’ he told reporters on Friday.
‘If they are not in a position to support themselves then there is the alternative for them to return to their home countries.
‘We still have quite a number of people who are here on visitor visas.
‘As much as it is lovely to have visitors to Australia in good times, at times like this if you’re a visitor in this country, it is time, as it has been now for some while – and I know many visitors have – to make your way home and to ensure that you can receive the supports that are available … in your home countries.’
Backpackers (pictured) are seen leaving Bondi and heading to Sydney airport on Friday after Mr Morrison’s announcement
Scott Morrison (pictured on Friday) said tourists, such as backpackers and those on student visas, who are unable to support themselves should ‘make their way home’
Backpackers in Bondi (pictured) are seen packing up and heading to the airport on Friday shortly after Mr Morrison encouraged travellers to ‘make their way home’
The prime minister explained that some travellers to Australia, such as those on working-holiday visas could work in fruit picking and other agricultural work.
But he said they must first self-isolate before travelling to regional areas, amid fears the migration could spread the virus from cities to ‘more vulnerable’ regions.
He also said workers will be required to abide by social-distancing rules.
‘This is being done to ensure that those producers can get the work done but also to ensure that the communities are protected,’ he said.
Travellers leaving Australia are seen presenting their flight documents to airport security in Sydney on Monday (pictured)
It comes as Australians continue to return home to see out the pandemic. Passengers returned on a special flight repatriating Australians from abroad (pictured on Thursday in Brisbane)
Police screen incoming passengers at the domestic airport in Brisbane on Friday (pictured)
‘You can’t have six backpackers in a caravan up out in rural parts of the country,’ he added.
‘That’s not on. Not going to happen.’
He reiterated the current visa regulations which state that students who come to Australia must prove they have enough money to support themselves for 12 months.
Mr Morrison commented that given students will have known about this rule before arriving, it is ‘not unreasonable’ to expect them to look after themselves.
‘That is a requirement for their visa when they come for the first year,’ he explained.
‘That is not an unreasonable expectation of the government that students would be able to fulfill the commitment that they gave.’
But those who can be useful to the health system, such as student nurses, have had restrictions on their visas lifted – bringing 20,000 more nurses into the workforce.
‘For those backpackers who are nurses or doctors or have other critical skills that can really help us during this crisis then there will be opportunities for them as well,’ he added.
‘But our focus and our priority is on supporting Australians and Australian residents with the economic supports that are available.’