Another large public gathering has sparked concerns that Sydneysiders aren’t taking social distancing seriously enough, as the Northern Beaches outbreak continues to climb.
Footage taken in the lead up to Christmas shows hundreds of people in close proximity looking at Christmas lights outside the Hillsong church at Bella Vista in Sydney’s northwest.
It comes after riot police were called in to break up a huge party at Bronte Beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs on Christmas Day.
A concerned local resident who shot the video and sent the footage to 7News
New South Wales reported nine new cases on Saturday, eight of which were linked to the growing Avalon Cluster – which now stands at 116 cases.
With the Northern Beaches on lockdown, the rest of the Harbor City is permitted to have outdoor gatherings of 100 people with strict social distancing measures in place.
Outside the stunning Christmas lights display at Bella Vista, it appeared the crowd was well over capacity.
A concerned local resident who shot the video and sent the footage to 7News.
Daily Mail Australia have contacted Hillsong for comment and are not suggesting the church sanctioned the Christmas event.
The evangelical mega-church known for drawing large crowds has turned to livestreaming services with venues and places of worship in NSW only permitted to have 300 people on site, subject to the one person per square metre rule.
The evangelical mega-church known for drawing large crowds has turned to livestreaming services (Hillsong church in Bella Vista, Sydney)
A stunning display of reindeer are pictured outside the Hillsong church in Sydney
A stunning display of Christmas baubles are pictured outside the Hillsong church in Sydney
On Saturday, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard slammed ‘backpackers’ for not ‘giving a damn about the rest of Sydney’ after they flouted COVID-19 restrictions to party on Christmas Day.
Some 300 revellers ignored social distancing as they partied at Bronte Beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs before riot police broke up the party at 3pm on Friday.
A 25-year-old man was issued a Court Attendance Notice for allegedly failing to comply with a move on direction from police.
Mr Hazzard said the behaviour of the partygoers was ‘absolutely appalling’ and could lead to a ‘super-spreader event’ during a press conference on Boxing Day.
It comes as Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia have banned all Sydneysiders from entering their states until coronavirus cases are zero.
Some 300 Christmas revellers (pictured) gathered at Bronte Beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs on Friday for a massive party – before riot police broke up the event at 3pm
‘People in the Northern Beaches have been doing their part big-time to keep not only themselves but the rest of Sydney safe,’ Mr Hazzard said.
‘It is absolutely appalling to see what was clearly a group of people, a large gathering of people, who didn’t give a damn about the rest of Sydney.
‘Let me tell you, that event, I am hoping, will not become a super spreader event but there is every chance that it could be.
‘In the earlier stages of the pandemic, we had some challenges with backpackers, with backpackers who clearly wanted to party in the eastern suburbs – it cannot go on.
‘There is still a major risk for us with COVID, and my message to those people and people who know any of those people, is tell them to stop it, cut it out, or you may well end up with the virus yourself or you may end up being part of a super-spreader event.’
A super-spreader event would likely frustrate Sydneysiders, who are are currently locked out from Victoria, Queensland and WA.
Other states such as South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT require Sydneysiders to quarantine for 14 days upon entry.
Only the Northern Territory allows Sydneysiders, except for those in the Northern Beaches north of Narrabeen, to arrive without quarantine.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard (right) slammed the ‘backpackers’ for not ‘giving a damn about the rest of Sydney’ during a press conference on Boxing Day
Radio host Carla Bignasca (left) assumed all of the partygoers (right) were European backpackers and told them to ‘go back to where they came from’ on Saturday
The suspected backpackers were also slammed on The Today Show, where radio host Carla Bignasca told them to ‘go back to where they came from’.
‘We’ve got all this fruit on trees that need to be picked, vegetables that need to be taken from crops and yet they’re sitting there getting slammed and wasted on a beach,’ she said.
‘How are they supporting themselves if we’ve got all this work for them and no one is doing anything?’
‘I understand it’s Christmas Day but go back to where you came from.’
Ms Bignasca highlighted the virus is ‘virilous and crippling’ in Europe while Australia is faring much better.
‘If they can only see what’s going on back home how good we have it here – but that’s for a reason,’ she said.
‘So respect the rules, respect the laws and don’t go being an idiot like that on the beach.’
Also appearing on the Today Show, radio host Brendan Jones said to ‘hunt them down and send them back to wherever they come from’
Richard ‘Dickie’ Wilkins said it was ‘a big assumption’ that all the partygoers were European backpackers but ultimately agreed.
‘Wherever they’re from, there are families apart, people in border towns that can’t go across the border,’ he said.
Also appearing on the Today Show, radio host Brendan Jones said to ‘hunt them down and send them back to wherever they come from’.
‘Send them down to Cottees (Cordial), my dad picks the fruit, my backpacker picks the fruit. Do that,’ he said.
A young man who was allegedly attended the party is due to appear in court after he allegedly failed to comply with police directions to leave the area.
‘A 25-year-old man was issued a Court Attendance Notice for failure to comply with a move on direction,’ a NSW Police spokesman told Daily Mail Australia.
‘The remainder of the crowd complied and left the area.
‘Police remind the community the park is an alcohol-prohibited area.’
Social distancing was non-existent at Bronte as crowds danced closely together
Footage emerged on Friday showing revellers at Bronte wearing festive Santa hats, dancing closely together and on each others’ shoulders in a large crowd, as the Sydney outbreak grew to 118 confirmed cases.
No face masks could be seen and social distancing was non-existent.
Mr Hazzard immediately slammed the group as ‘ignorant’ for potentially spreading the deadly disease on Friday.
‘I get the desire for youthful Christmas exuberance, but this is as irresponsible, ignorant and idiotic as it gets,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.
‘It’s a massive potential COVID-19 incubator.’
Social media users have also expressed anger over the footage as many families have been forced apart due to the latest outbreak.
‘Not sure these peeps got the COVID memo,’ a concerned local captioned a video of the disturbing scenes.
Revellers were seen packed closely together in a massive crowd and few masks in sight
Another added: ‘I’m not the Christmas Grinch and I don’t begrudge anyone having a good time after the year we’ve had but am I missing something? How come only 10 people in a household but over 200 people close together at Bronte?’
Police were seen trying to disperse the massive crowd and ordering revellers to move along in another video posted on Instagram.
NSW Police confirmed officers were called to Bronte at around 3pm and were assisted by the Public Order and Riot Squad.
‘Police were called to disperse a large crowd at the location,’ a spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia.
Only 10 people are allowed to gather indoors however, up to 100 people can gather outside in Greater Sydney. It is believed there was more than 300 people celebrating together in Bronte.
Police remained at the scene on Friday night to keep a close eye on a handful of revellers who chose to stay.
Police officers watch a group of people gathering in a large number beside Bondi Beach on December 25, 2020