Melbourne beaches closed to groups among several new coronavirus restrictions around the country

Melburnians will no longer be able to go to the beach in a group and South Australia has imposed a limit to gathering sizes.

Port Phillip City Council has clamped down on large groups accessing all of its beaches including the popular St Kilda Beach.

Port Phillip City Council has clamped down on large groups accessing all of its beaches including the popular St Kilda Beach. Source: AAP

As the coronavirus continues to spread across Victoria, harsher measures are being put in place to stop people from gathering in large groups and leaving home unnecessarily.

Port Phillip City Council has clamped down on large groups accessing all of its beaches including the popular St Kilda Beach effective from Friday.

The council said in a statement that its beaches must not be used as gathering places, with visitors having to keep their distance from each other.

Dog walkers, swimmers and joggers will still be able to use beaches as normal, however strict social distancing rules are in place.

The beach restrictions come ahead of a sunny Saturday with Melbourne expected to reach 25 degrees.

Earlier, Premier Daniel Andrews said he would not hesitate to close beaches if people continued to disregard rules around self-isolation and social distancing.

"If you can stay home, you must stay home," Mr Andrews told reporters.

"You don't need to be at the beach. If you choose to be at the beach then that is a choice that may cost someone their life.

"I've closed the pubs because no one has to go to the pubs. If I have to close the beaches, I will. Be in no doubt about that."

People pack onto St Kilda beach on March 27 despite social distancing rules
People are seen at St Kilda Beach on March 27, 2020 in Melbourne. Source: Getty Images AsiaPac

Gatherings limited in South Australia

South Australians will no longer be able to hold gatherings of more than ten people as police enforce social distancing rules amid the spread of coronavirus.

In a statement issued Friday South Australia Police said gatherings of less than 10 people would still require the people present to be one person per four square metres.

Police say it would be an offence to breach these rules.

South Australian Police Commissioner Grant Stevens also directed all non-essential businesses to close, including pubs and clubs, gyms and pools, cinemas and restaurants and cafes (except for take-away orders).

The restrictions come as the governor of South Australia announced he is stepping down from public duties as coronavirus continues to spread.

South Australian Police stopping vehicles near the SA border 5kms east of Pinnaroo, South Australia
South Australia has already closed its borders as part of measures to contain the coronavirus Source: AAP

Governor Hieu Van Le in a statement released on Friday said he and his wife would continue their regular engagements and communication with the SA community through other means.

Mr Le said while things were challenging in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, everyone had a part to play and staying in touch was vital.

"Every one of us is potentially affected by this pandemic - no one is exempt.

At the same time, as we are physically distancing ourselves from one another, we need to remain connected in spirit.

More than ever, it is important to extend kindness to one another, to look out and care for each other, and to ensure that our actions and words reflect the society that we are - a society that is harmonious, resilient, respectful, and decent; a society that believes in the common good," he said in a statement.

Mr Le's departure from public events comes as SA recorded 257 confirmed cases, with an extra 22 reported on Friday.

Sydney man charged for stealing toilet paper

A Sydney man has been arrested over allegations he stole hundreds of rolls of toilet paper from supermarket storage areas.

The 30-year-old man was arrested in Lidcombe on Friday afternoon after a vehicle stop.

Police will allege he and another man stole about 400 rolls of toilet paper from restricted storage areas at stores in Auburn and Granville last Sunday.

The pair also allegedly went to stores at Bass Hill and Lidcombe with intent to steal.

Further arrests are expected, police said.

Supermarkets have been strictly limiting how many packs of toilet rolls customers can buy during the COVID-19 pandemic after anxious shoppers began stocking up on the product, leaving shelves bare.

NSW Police Minister David Elliott congratulated police on the arrest.

"At this time of crisis, it only takes one fool to cause a high level of unnecessary community anxiety," he said in a statement.

The Auburn man is due to face the Parramatta Local Court via video link on Saturday charged with two counts of larceny, robbery in company, break and enter with intent, and entering enclosed land without lawful excuse.

Tasmanian healthcare worker infected

A healthcare worker in northern Tasmania is one of 11 new cases of coronavirus in the state.

The island's statewide case tally rose to 58 on Friday night, with the Mersey Community Hospital staffer among them.

Health authorities are investigating the person's movements and will contact any of their close contacts.

Of the new cases, eight are related to people who have been onboard cruise ships. They were all already in self-quarantine.

Two other cases are people who recently travelled to Tasmania from overseas.

The state is yet to confirm any community virus transmission and on Friday tightened social measures, indefinitely banning gatherings of more than 10 people.

Anyone who breaches the order could be hit with a fine of up to $16,800.

"We don't want to see backyard parties, we don't want to see parties in the park ... parties at the beach," Premier Peter Gutwein said.

"It's not on. The message is clear. Unless you need to go to work, to go out to get supplies, stay at home and save lives."

Australians must stay at least 1.5 metres away from other people. Indoors, there must be a density of no more than one person per four square metres of floor space.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at

6 min read
Published 28 March 2020 at 7:26am
Source: AAP