The message is somewhat clear: “You can’t be on holiday”. But there is still some confusion around who – if anyone – can still go for a walk or a swim at some of Queensland’s most popular beaches.
On Monday, Gold Coast City Council took the extraordinary step of closing some Gold Coast beaches after thousands of people ignored social distancing rules on the weekend.
From midnight on Tuesday, The Spit, Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta beaches were closed down, however, other beaches were allowed to remain open for a swim and to exercise.
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Some believe the move is perhaps a step too far, especially considering the majority are trying to do the right thing. But Mayor Tom Tate says that the move is not aimed at locals, rather, the ban is aimed at keeping “out-of-towners” from flocking to the sand in large numbers.
But Today show host Karl Stefanovic has hit out at the beach ban, which was introduced to deter tourists from visiting the region over the upcoming Easter holiday period, saying it was confusing for locals as to what they’re allowed to do in their own suburbs.
“It’s such a weird message,” he said during an interview on Wednesday with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
“If someone is not a local but they’re in the area anyway, they can’t go to the beach … but a local can? What’s the point of it? Maybe you (non-local) were there before it was locked down? What is local? What if you are 5km away, can you go for a walk? What if you are 6km?”
Ms Palaszczuk hit back saying the message was clear, and that she backed the decision for Cr Tate to ban visits to some Queensland beaches.
“What he (Cr Tate) is saying is, if you are local, you are allowed to go for a walk but if you are not local, you should not be coming down to the beach to do your exercise,” she said.
“You should be doing your exercise. You should be doing your exercise in your local areas.”
Ms Palaszczuk said the bans were put in place to deter holiday-makers form visiting the region, and also means thousands of car spaces along the coastline will also be shut down as part of the measure.
If you live locally, go and walk locally,” she said. “Now is not the time for a holiday.
“If you don’t live locally, stay in your suburb and celebrate Easter with your family.”
Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has given a stern warning to NSW residents ahead of the Easter break.
Speaking in Sydney alongside NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Commissioner Fuller said police will be out in force on roads, highways and making visits to caravan parks to ensure people adhere to the orders around the Easter holidays.
“We’ve heard the warning from our Prime Minister and the Premier,” he said.
“We will be going through caravan parks early issuing warnings to people that may think they can get around these laws. It is important over this weekend that we continue the good work and we continue to isolate, as frustrating as that may be.”
Ordinarily at this time of year, upwards of 300,000 Australians would be getting ready to hit the road for a camping trip over the Easter long weekend.
The NSW Premier and the NSW Health Minister have outlined orders under the Public Health Act that state a person must not leave their home without a reasonable excuse.
These rules do not prohibit people from going to the supermarket and pharmacy, going to and from work if you cannot work from home, going to medical appointments, or leaving for some brief exercise in your own local area.