Coronavirus: Australian beach closed after hundreds gather in defiance of 'social distancing' rules

21 March 2020, 01:22 | Updated: 21 March 2020, 10:55

Australia's most popular beach has been closed after hundreds of people gathered there on Friday in defiance of "social distancing" rules.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison had asked Australians not to gather in groups of more than 500 outdoors, while an indoor limit was set at 100.

It was also advised that people stay at least 1.5m away from each other.

So Friday's scenes at Bondi Beach in Sydney sparked anger from many, including Australia's health minister Greg Hunt.

Mr Hunt told reporters that those pictured on the beach had been "putting others at risk".

He added: "What happened in Bondi was unacceptable, and the local council must take steps to stop that from occurring.

"This is all of our responsibility, each of us.

"I would say to everybody, we are all in this together."

On Saturday, Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said Bondi Beach would be temporarily closed, according to a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Australia has more than 750 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. Seven people have died.

In the US state of Florida, city officials took it upon themselves to close beaches after Governor Ron DeSantis refused to.

It came after pictures of college students enjoying their break by flocking to the state's beaches earlier in the week.

Mr DeSantis had said on Tuesday that he would not close the beaches, despite closing the state's bars and clubs, but he did limit parties to 10 people per group.

But the mayors of Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale, two of the state's most popular beach destinations, had ordered their beaches closed.

Beaches in Tampa and Naples are also closed, along with those in Miami-Dade County.

:: Listen to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

Florida has more than 500 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

Globally there have been 272,000 cases and 11,000 deaths.