Sydney's famous Bondi Beach has essentially closed in an attempt to quell the spread of the deadly coronavirus after thousands of beachgoers ignored social distancing urges yesterday.
Police Minister David Elliott implemented the beach's closure amid widespread outrage over dramatic photos depicting thousands of beachgoers flocking to the beach despite global efforts to stay inside, away from large groups of people, to minimise risk of infection.
According to Elliott, other large beaches in Australia may follow suit.
Speaking in a press conference today, Mr Elliott said the changes will see Bondi Beach patrolled to ensure there are no more than 500 people on the sand at a time.
He said the move would become "the new norm" from Saturday.
"We are relying on the laws of common sense. They will be asked to move on if there are more than 500 people on the beach," he said, adding that "headcounts for 500 people have been done before."
"In consultation with the police and Surf Life Saving NSW, we will now see beaches across the state that do not comply with the regulations close.
"If people to not comply, the police will have the power to "move on" individuals.
"This is because we want you to be safe."
The move comes after Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt has slammed Bondi beachgoers and the local council for not meeting self-isolation measures on Friday.
"Around the country people are generally taking enormous strides but what happened in Bondi was unacceptable and the local council must take steps to stop that occurring," he said.
"Our message to local council is this is all of our responsibilities each of us as individuals, groups, families.
"Where something like this is occurring the local council must step in, that message is absolutely clear."
Meanwhile Waverley Mayor, Paula Masselos, posted a statement last night in response to the overcrowding, urging the public to "observe Health advice about social distancing when visiting our area including our beaches.
"The public must at all times keep a minimum safe distance from each other in public places and if you don't need to be out in public, please consider staying at home," Mayor Masselos said.
"We all have a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and I am frustrated that people continue to ignore Health advice about social distancing as observed yesterday at Bondi Beach."
It led to Waverley mayor Paula Masselos was forced to issue a public plea on Saturday for people to stay indoors amid the coronavirus pandemic and away from beaches. Thousands flocked to Bondi Beach on Friday amid temperatures in the high 30s, with pictures of packed beaches going viral online.
Photos of beachgoers ignoring social distancing measures have been harshly criticised by foreign media and on social media as the world attempts to slow the spread of the deadly virus." The public must at all times keep a minimum safe distance from each other in public places and if you don't need to be out in public, please consider staying at home," Mr Masselos said.
The fallout for Australians and tourists who were spotted recklessly defying the government's strict advice on social distancing and self-isolation is continuing to prompt fury from locals and officials.
Hundreds made the most of yesterday's warm weather in Sydney despite the Prime Minister announcing strict new rules the same day.
But now the world has joined the chorus, with the public and publications like UK's The Metro describing the scenes on Bondi Beach as "unbelievable" while readers have described Australians' actions as "stupid".
At least 877 cases of the new coronavirus have now been confirmed across Australia, and seven people have died.
Photos emerged of sunbathers amid a packed Bondi Beach on Friday as the pandemic surged across the country.
"I am surprised by the number of people out," one swimmer told CBS.
"I've just been out for a swim, and come out, get a bit of exercise, get outside and head home.
"I guess I'm more surprised by just the number of people who are just lazing around on the beach.
"The whole social distancing hasn't really taken hold in Bondi just yet, I would say."
Earlier on Friday, The Daily Telegraphspoke to one group of American backpackers who said they were unfazed by the virus because they were young and "unlikely" to be infected.
"We figure none of us have any symptoms, due to our age the virus is unlikely to get us, and we're more likely to get it in New York City where there are double the amount of cases than the 300 in Australia," Lauren Titone said, citing incorrect figures.
"I'm not nervous. I'm young. I feel my body can handle it."
The sight has frightened locals, with one woman telling a community Facebook page: "I feel seriously disheartened and pretty scared right now as I just drove through Bondi Beach and saw that there is absolutely no isolation or social distancing happening".
"Bondi is busier than ever, the beach is packed and the traffic is insane," she said.