Family in despair as COVID-19 uncertainty takes its toll‘Frightened children’: Frontline nurse speaks on COVID-19

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A swimmer who flouted social distancing rules has complained about his civil liberties being taken away after beaches in Sydney’s eastern suburbs closed at lunchime today.

Only five days after being reopened from a month-long closure, lifeguards and police were forced to close fences and move people off Coogee, Clovelly and Maroubra beaches.

But the fences, signs and messages did not stop one man at Coogee who jumped the fence

before sprinting for the crystal clear, blue water.

media_cameraA man who ignored closed beach signs was ushered out of the water by lifeguards and police. Picture: Adam Yip

An NSW police officer shouted at the man to get out of the water before a lifeguard on a jet ski spoke to him as he was floating near the shore.

After speaking to police on the beach he said he was not fined.

“Who made these laws?” he said.

“Who thinks they’re above the law – the politicians. I did not vote for them, who voted for them? We’re smart enough to vote for them but we’re not smart enough to go for a swim.

“Someone has to stand up to these people, they’re taking our civil liberties who gave them the right?”

media_cameraThe swimmer was escorted off the sand by police after Coogee beach was closed. Picture: Adam Yip

Randwick City Council Mayor Danny Said said he hoped the man who ran across the sand was fined: “You have to take a bit of personal responsibility.”

Beaches in the eastern suburbs were closed in March after locals and tourists flouted social distancing restrictions.

A Randwick City Council spokeswoman confirmed to The Daily Telegraph the beaches were closed today due to breaches in social distancing rules.

“There were too many people and lifeguards are now in the process of closing them all down,” she said.

“We found that there were lots of kids and families paddling at the shoreline, which increased numbers on the sand.”

media_cameraPolice have closed Clovelly beach over concerns beachgoers were not observing COVID-19 social distancing measures. Picture: Gettymedia_cameraSwimmers leave Clovelly Beach after being ordered from the water by police. Picture: Getty

Tourist Mark Tucek from the Czech Republic came to Coogee from Bondi Junction for a quick swim and a walk.

“Waverley Council announced they would keep them (the beaches) closed til next Tuesday so we came here instead,” Mr Tuce said.

“In my opinion the council could employ people to keep people apart so we can still use the beaches.”

media_cameraPolice and lifeguards closed Coogee beach on Friday after crowds flocked for the sun and surf. Picture: Matrixmedia_cameraWarm weather drew a crowd of people to Maroubra beach today, forcing lifeguards to close the beach just days after it was reopened.media_cameraPolice at the entrance of Coogee Beach after lifeguards closed the stretch of sand today. Picture: Wendy Fitzgibbon

The closures came only hours after the state’s top cop warned the beaches would be closely monitored.

“We hope people go down there and exercise, have a swim, then dry off and go home, and really give someone else the opportunity to go down to the beach,” NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said.

He added, with a grin he was hoping for rain.

media_cameraRandwick Mayor Danny Said speaking to the media at Coogee beach on Friday. Picture: Adam Yip

Despite the closures, Waverley Council remains on track to open access to the water at their beaches.

“We’re going to try on open access on Tuesday. We thought carefully about when we wanted to try this again,” Waverly Mayor Paula Masselos told The Daily Telegraph.

“Our community is on board with the plan and they have been doing the right thing. They want access to the water to be opened. Our challenge is dealing with the tourists and visitors but we are lucky our lifeguards are experienced in dealing with big numbers.”

media_cameraAn empty Coogee beach after lifeguards cleared the sand today. Picture: Wendy Fitzgibbon

BEACHGOERS WARNED

Earlier, Randwick Council issued a stern warning to beachgoers that Coogee, Maroubra and Clovelly will close this weekend if social distancing is not followed.

Beaches will be monitored by lifeguards, rangers and staff who will “count heads” in the water and on the sand made easier with new fencing allowing for entry and exit points.

“It certainly wasn’t in their job description, to count heads on a beach during a global pandemic, but they’ve stepped up and shown their commitment to our residents,” said Randwick City Mayor Danny Said.

Mr Said said people should not be “planning a day at the beach” with the area only open for exercise.

“People should not be hopping in their cars to travel to our beaches,” he said.

“The stay at home public health orders remain in place, which require people to not leave their homes unless it is for essential reasons.”

media_cameraSydneysiders had access to Coogee beach for just days before authorities were forced to shut them today. Picture: Matrix.

TESTING RAMPED UP TO 8000 A DAY

Anyone who feels unwell or is concerned they might have COVID-19 can now come forward for testing after the government broadened the testing criteria.

The Daily Telegraph revealed today NSW residents can now step forward for COVID-19 testing as the government works to boost testing rates to 8000 a day.

Previously, just those people who have been in contact with an infected person, were part of a known cluster or who work with vulnerable people could be swabbed for the virus.

It comes as just seven people returned positive results for COVID-19 despite more than 7000 people presenting for testing.

The state’s death toll increased to 34 after one more death related to COVID-19 was confirmed overnight.

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said a 78-year-old woman from Newmarch House in Cadden died, bringing the centre’s fatalities to four.

media_cameraNSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has promised to ramp up testing.

“I’m very pleased to announce that the NSW Government is saying to anybody across state if you are worried you have the virus or have been in contact and are concerned you have the disease please come forward,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

Ms Berejiklian called on all residents to come forward for testing – even on the weekends – to ensure daily testing rates remain high.

It’s hoped the increased testing rates will help the state prepare for a potential lifting of lockdown restrictions in coming weeks, she said.

“As we consider lifting restrictions we have to do more tests,” she said.

$73 MILLION FOR MENTAL HEALTH

The government has boosted access to mental health services across NSW, announcing the expansion of virtual mental health support teams and additional resources on the state’s mental health hotline.

Mental Health Minister Bronwyn Taylor said the government has placed 180 new psychologists into the workforce and boosted frontline support for the 1800 011 511 mental health line to enable it to field an additional 60,000 calls.

“We want this mental health line to be all things to everyone that needs it. If we can allow access to people with a mental health issue we can allow the right pathway to right service at the right time they’re going to get better outcomes,” she said.

The government has also announced it will be expanding virtual mental health support service across every Local Health District in NSW to enable people in the state’s regions to access help when they need it most.

“It’s bringing mental health care to people regardless of your circumstances or where you live.”

“It’s a huge step forward in mentals health provision, particularly in this time of COVID-19.”

New parents will also be able to access free support to help with their newborn’s sleeping routine.

Ms Taylor said Tresillian’s Sleep Well Baby program will be free for all NSW parents from today.

“What that means is every single day from their homes 24 hours a day parents will be able to access the services they need,” she said.

The program offers support for parents of newborn up to children aged 3 to help guide them through getting their baby to sleep. It includes the latest clinical guidance around sleep routines and useful sleep monitoring tools.



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