The NSW Health Minister has expressed his disappointment in people who flouted social distancing rules on Sydney beaches after council relaxed the lockdown for their benefit.
In the last 24 hours there has been a slight rise in coronavirus infections in NSW with 12 new cases, four at the Newmarch House aged care facility in western Sydney.
Of the four, two were residents and two were staff, bringing the total number of cases at the Anglicare facility to 48 (31 residents, 17 staff).
There is now a total of 2,994 coronavirus cases in NSW.
This morning, swathes of people descended on Randwick beaches after the council decided yesterday to close the beaches again, with the exception of a three-hour window between 6:00am to 9:00am.
Coogee, Clovelly and Maroubra were shut early on Friday after people failed to adhere to the rules that the beaches were to be used for exercise only.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said it was worrying that people still couldn’t be trusted.
“I have to express a degree of disappointment and agitation about the fact that some people, when the rules are relaxed, when we try and do the right thing by giving people the opportunity to have some outside exercise, [they] are disregarding the very strong message of social distancing,” he said.
He said unless people do the right thing, authorities will have no choice but to return to the most stringent of restrictions around public spaces.
“My message to the community is, as the councils try to do the right thing by giving a little more in the way of space and time to try and enjoy the sort of things we traditionally enjoy, you’ve got to stick with the 1.5 metre social distancing.
“It’s a sneaky virus, and it could easily cut loose again if people don’t stick to the rules.”
The three beaches will be shut again after 9:00am tomorrow. The council said it would reassess the situation on Monday.
Randwick Council re-opened the beaches for exercise last Monday to help improve the physical and mental wellbeing of locals.
NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Karen Webb estimated that 1 per cent of people were not adhering to social distancing rules.
“Whether it’s arrogance, ignorance or entitlement, I’m not sure but it’s certainly frustrating for police,” she said.
In the last 24 hours, another worker at an aged care facility has tested positive to COVID-19 but Mr Hazzard said it was not appropriate to name the facility yet.
Families and staff were still being notified, but the Minister said once that process is complete he will be “transparent” with the community.
The worker developed symptoms 48 hours after their last shift and contact tracing was underway.
The state’s testing blitz continues after the NSW Government opened up testing to anyone with symptoms — 4,840 people have been tested in the last 24 hours.
Mr Hazzard acknowledged this was a drop from yesterday’s mammoth effort of 7,352 tests but said it was still a “remarkable” number.
Yesterday NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she would like to see testing rates exceed 8,000 a day.
“We need it to understand what’s happening in the broader population,” Mr Hazzard said.
“I’d like to make this very clear to our residents of New South Wales: if you have any symptoms whatsoever, as little as an itchy throat, a runny nose, a temperature, the Government wants you to come forward and get tested.”
When questioned about US President Donald Trump’s recent comments on remedies, including the suggestion that disinfectant could be injected into people’s bodies to fight coronavirus, Mr Hazzard was succinct.
“I watch Mr Trump with amazement, that’s all I can really say.”