Melbourne Beachgoers Urged to Comply With Virus Restrictions

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Beachgoers in Australia’s state of Victoria have been warned to obey restrictions on public behavior and social distancing aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19, or risk having some popular swimming spots closed.

Victoria police stepped up patrols and said they will increase fines after temperatures as high as 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit) brought out weekend crowds at beaches in the state capital of Melbourne. Local media reported councils were monitoring the situation and have the option of closing some beaches.

“Police are out there and they will fine you,” Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters. “It would be unwise for anybody who is thinking about doing those sorts of things the next time we get a warm day.”

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Victoria has been the center of Australia’s coronavirus outbreak after security failures at quarantine hotels for returned overseas travelers led to a resurgence of community transmission. While a curfew in Melbourne was lifted last week, limits on public gatherings of as many as five people still apply and will be reviewed Oct. 19 if the city can achieve Covid case targets.

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The state had 12 new cases in the last 24 hours and one death, Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services said in a Twitter post on Sunday. The 14-day rolling average in metropolitan Melbourne dropped to 11.9.

Andrews said everyone in the state needs to follow the rules to help curb community transmission.

“People love to go to the beach when it’s sunny but there’s a global pandemic on and we’re every close to beating the second wave,” he said. “Yes there’s a natural urge to go and spend time in the sun. But surely there’s a greater urge to see this thing off, to defeat it and to have a normal summer and to have a 2021 vastly different and better than the way 2020 has unfolded.”

Separately, New South Wales state officials reported zero locally transmitted cases for a ninth straight day.

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