Fury as Aussies ignore virus advice
Australians and tourists have been spotted recklessly defying the government's strict advice on social distancing and self-isolation, prompting fury from locals and officials.
At least 849 cases of the new coronavirus have now been confirmed across Australia, and seven people have died.
To help curb the spread of the virus, the government has advised people to stay at least a metre and a half apart and imposed strict limits on indoor and mass gatherings. The border has been shut to nonresidents and those who arrive in Australia from overseas are also now required to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
But on Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was aware of some people continuing to flout the rules.
"We are hearing reports of some who are saying they're in self isolation and they're out and about," he said.
"In many cases for the young and the healthy, it is true that the majority of cases, 8 out of 10 people only have a mild illness … but by you doing the right thing, you'll be saving the life of someone who is more vulnerable," he said. "So do it for your fellow Australians."
Chief medical officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, added: "This is your civic duty to your fellow Australians to stay home for that entire 14 days if you've come back to Australia, no exceptions".
Everyone else should be distancing themselves "from every fellow Australian where possible", he said.
The comments came as photos emerged of a packed Bondi Beach on Friday, and reports of busy pubs.
"Great to see Australia taking social distancing seriously," one Sydneysider wrote on Twitter, alongside a photo of the iconic beach rammed with swimmers and sunbathers.
Great to see Australia taking social distancing seriously. The pubs are full, beaches packed and 3,800 got off a cruise ship yesterday where coronavirus was on board. Most would have jumped on the nearest train. Below is a picture of Bondi Beach #sydney #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/P6jvFcPjyb— Liam Anthony White (@LiamDeF) March 20, 2020
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.
"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."
In the United Kingdom, there were similar fears around the number of people continuing to drink at pubs and dine out at restaurants despite government advice.
Earlier this week, the UK government simply advised people to stay away from social venues, such as restaurants, pubs, clubs and theatres. But London mayor Sadiq Khan said the soft approach had led to some mixed messaging.
"The advice from the government is just advice, and I think that provides a mixed message. We may move to a situation where we move from advice to bans," he said on Friday morning.
"There are still too many people being witnessed on our streets, in our bars, in our cafes, using the Tube, using our buses."
UK health minister Nadine Dorries, who was diagnosed with the coronavirus last week, said people were also working in cafes instead of at home.
"One cafe owner tells me that takings have shot up over double usual daily amount," she said on Twitter.
"This is not social distancing, it is irresponsible behaviour and the price to pay for such selfishness will be severe for us all."
Restaurants and pubs closed? Well, not exactly. Plenty of people at my local pub tonight, enjoying a pint and some food and company. Boris coronavirus advice clearly ignored by many.— Francesco Ragni (@FrancescoRagni) March 17, 2020
Luckily a sign of the door reminds people to wash their hands...#Coronavirus #London pic.twitter.com/iU3jTrKGEL
I’m told my local pub in West London was rammed last night. Nobody is listening to your ‘suggestions’ re group gathering avoidance, Prime Minister @BorisJohnson.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) March 19, 2020
Why are we not in lockdown yet?
What are you waiting for?
Make mandatory decisions ASAP, or it will cost lives.
Tim Martin, the CEO of one of Britain's largest bar chains Wetherspoons, vowed to keep his pubs open, arguing a complete shutdown would be "over the top".
"There's hardly been any transmission of the virus within pubs and I think it's over the top to shut them," he told Sky News.
But on Friday afternoon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson finally made the order.
"We are telling cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can and not reopen tomorrow," he said.
"Unless we get this right we're going to see thousands of lives lost needlessly," he said, adding: "We will get through it together and we will beat this virus".
An NHS Intensive Care worker known as Jack told the UK's LBC radio it was "beyond immoral" to keep going out.
"Anyone who goes for a mother's day thing, to somebody's pub, it's beyond immoral," he said.
"This will not stop unless we stop going out and infecting other people. I'm furious. That, I'm afraid, is killing people. It will kill people. And not just kill people, people who survive it could be respiratorily crippled for the rest of their lives.
"You may not die, but you may not get back to how you were."
Britain's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty also warned young people they would not "breeze through" coronavirus.
He said: "It is clear that children get this disease much less strongly than adults. I think the data on that is pretty strong now, and it certainly is the case that the majority of those that end up dying sadly are people who tend to be either in the later part of their lives, usually quite elderly, or those with pre-existing health conditions."
Originally published as Fury as Aussies ignore virus advice