Fury as Byron Bay tourists crowd beaches

First it was the sunny shores of Bondi Beach, now tourists staying in Byron Bay have ignored the social distancing rule to catch a sunset.

Posting to Facebook, local resident Tim Cassidy shared photos of the popular foreshore near Byron Bay, showing tourists gathering in groups to watch the sun go down.

Mr Cassidy, who said he kept his distance from the crowds to take the photos, questioned why authorities didn’t intervene and enforce the social distancing rule of 1.5 metres.

“Let me firstly just say that yesterday afternoon/sunset at the Bay beachfront was just one of the most brilliant I have experienced in my hometown,” Mr Cassidy wrote.

“It was so beautiful and it was difficult to decide to spoil that magic by choosing to write this post.

“The backpackers were so peaceful and having a special time in our stunning town. I love them heaps, but I love my town folk too.”

Social media users were quick to comment on the groups, questioning why some are ignoring advice.

“I love the young people … but why aren’t they listening … there is plenty of beach to spread out on,” one suggested.

“This is going to spread like wild fires if people don’t start using preventive measures,” another added.

Mr Cassidy, who once owned and operated the Aquarius Backpacker Hostel in Byron Bay, said the photos weren’t to spark anger – but to raise awareness and encourage local authorities to step in. He also suggested ways local accommodation providers could inform visitors of how to handle the outbreak.

“Signs in every dorm, text messages to all guests, vocal announcements regularly to all guests,” Mr Cassidy suggested in his post.

“I also call upon our Byron Shire Council and Police to please address this issue ASAP, by keeping each hostel manager accountable to enforce government recommendations about social distancing and isolation.”

Earlier this week, Waverley Council closed all three of its beaches in response to the NSW Police Minister David Elliot’s announcement that beaches across the state can only have a maximum of 500 people on the beach at any one time.

The closure came as pictures of Bondi Beach showed thousands of beachgoers ignoring social distancing advice.

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