AUSTRALIA’S immigration minister has condemned Christmas Day revellers who ignored coronavirus rules and partied in a “mass rave” on a Sydney beach.
Brit backpackers could even face deportation after flouting the rules to attend the party at Bronte Beach on December 25.
Some of the partygoers are thought to be British nationals who had travelled to Australia before the pandemic and stayed there on 12-month visas after the country shut its borders.
But immigration minister Alex Hawke issued a stark warning to those who attended, telling Sky News: “You have to obey the orders though and if you don’t, you will be liable to face visa cancellation if you are a temporary visa holder.”
He described how he was “shocked” by people “flagrantly disregarding public health orders” after at least 300 people attended the beach bash.
It has sparked outrage in New South Wales which has recorded nearly 150 locally transmitted cases in the last fortnight.
Australia has since announced new tougher restrictions for Sydney ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations.
The New South Wales state government announced households will now be restricted to only five guests from Thursday, instead of the previous 10 person limit.
Outdoor gatherings have also been cut from 50 to 30 people, as every other state maintains a travel ban on people from Sydney.
This is a high level of contagion for Australia, which has managed lower infection rates throughout the pandemic, compared to other countries.
Three women in Melbourne’s east have tested positive for the virus, believed by health authorities to be linked with the cases in New South Wales.
Ending the states two month streak of zero locally acquired cases, the women – two in their 40s and one in her 70s – and more than 40 people they had been in contact with were isolating at home.
The Health Department released a list of potential exposure sites, including Fountain Gate Shopping Centre.
Shocking social media posts show hundreds of unmasked partygoers sandwiched together dressed in festive Santa hats.
Australia currently permits outdoor gatherings of no more than 100 people.
British backpacker Elisha Palfrey shared a picture of the celebrations with her friends, which her father Mike Palfrey said were part of a “bubble”.
The party reportedly grew out of control with more and more people attending, before a riot squad was deployed to shut it down.
Most of them moved on peacefully, except one 25-year-old man who refused to leave, who will face court in 2021.
New Zealand backpacker Tarik Kent told the Daily Mail the revellers were “predominantly British and Irish”.
He explained how “music played and people got drunker” then “more and more people showed up by the minute”.
New South Wales health minister Brad Hazzard branded the behaviour “absolutely appalling” and hinted it could be a “super-spreader event”.
“People in the Northern Beaches have been doing their part big-time to keep not only themselves but the rest of Sydney safe.
“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.
“If they were in Europe right now, most of them would be in lockdown and not even allowed outside the front door,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Australia has recorded just over 28,300 coronavirus cases and 909 deaths.