New South Wales government has closed Sydney's Bondi Beach after beachgoers exceeded the 500-people gathering limit.
The closure is temporary and the measure will extend to other beaches if social distancing advice is being flouted.
The move was ordered by Australia's Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott.
Crowds on Bondi Beach appearing to defy social-distancing guidelines designed to slow the spread of Covid-19 have drawn the ire of the Federal Health Minister and other officials.
Many people made the most of warm weather yesterday to descend on the tourist hotspot.
Health Minister Greg Hunt today said while most Australians were taking enormous strides when it came social distancing, what happened at Bondi was "unacceptable".
His comments were echoed by the Waverley Council, which covers Bondi Beach, and many social users who castigated the beachgoers, describing them as selfish.
I can’t not say anything. As a #GP working in #Bondi and living in this area with my children, I am appalled at the lack of disregard by many for how serious this all this. #Bondi this is NOT #SocialDistancing. You are contributing to the spread of #covid pic.twitter.com/jCtXV6gght— Amandeep (@Dochansra) March 20, 2020
Some warned young people they were not immune to Covid-19, while others suggested renaming Bondi "Corona Beach".
Waverly Mayor Paula Masselos advised people to stay at home if they did not need to be out in public.
"We all have a role to play in preventing the spread of Covid-19 and I am frustrated that people continue to ignore health advice about social distancing as observed yesterday at Bondi Beach," she said.
"Behaving irresponsibly puts the entire community at risk."
The crowds at Australia's most famous beach even made the news on US network CBS, which broadcast pictures of tightly packed people congregating on the sand and in the surf.
Read more about the Covid-19 coronavirus:
- See all RNZ Covid-19 news
- Covid-19 alert system: What you need to know
- Self isolation - your questions answered
- Touching your Face: Why do we do it and how to stop
- Scientific hand-washing advice to avoid infection
NSW Labor's Shadow Treasurer, Walt Secord, who lives at Bondi, urged the State Government to consider closing the beach altogether.
"The decisions we make today can be life and death decisions for other people in a few days," he said.
"People are ignoring the social-distancing guidelines and I just think it's absolutely ludicrous."
Brennan Bastyovanszky, a lifesaver at Bondi, said yesterday was "perfect storm", with warm weather and people feeling the need to get a dose of fresh air and sunshine drawing people to the beach.
"I was amazed," he said.
"You had as many people down here as you would on New Year's Day.
"It was one of the busiest days I've ever seen and it was cause for concern, but it's outdoors - I could see that people were generally keeping their distance, so even though the beach was incredibly packed, you could see that people were keeping a metre and a half, two metres away from one another."
- If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs)