RAUCOUS backpackers face being deported after “absolutely appalling” behaviour as they flouted Covid-19 rules for a beachfront party in Australia.
Pictures show at least 300 boozy revellers ignoring social distancing during a Christmas party at Bronte Beach in Sydney.
Shocking pictures reveal a crowd of hundreds of unmasked partygoers crushed together at the bash, clearly flouting rules to stay apart.
Dressed in festive Santa hats, video footage shows drunken young people dancing and chanting.
Some can be seen weaving through the mass of revellers holding large drinks cups, or pulling iceboxes filled with refreshments.
Young women can be seen hugging each other among the tightly-packed crowds, while others are perched on friends’ shoulders as music blasts out in scenes reminiscent of a bustling festival.
The partying was so intense that a riot squad had to be called in to break up the party in the Bronte Beach park, which neighbours the city’s world-famous Bondi Beach in east Sydney.
Officials have issued a stark warning the party could be a “super-spreader” event, as Australia battles with rising Covid-19 cases.
“It is absolutely appalling to see what was clearly a large gathering of people who didn’t give a damn about the rest of Sydney,” New South Wales health minister Brad Hazzard told the Sydney Morning Herald.
He said the party has “every chance that it could be…a super spreader event”.
Ministers have put the party down to backpackers coming from Europe, where “most of them would be in lockdown and not even allowed outside the front door”, added Mr Hazzard.
The Christmas festivities come after backpackers spread the Covid-19 virus during a banned gathering at Bondi Beach earlier this year.
Australia has this week imposed stricter restrictions as Covid-19 cases began to rise sharply – there are now 206 active cases and 909 people had died as of December 29.
Witness Peter Hannam, a local journalist, told the BBC he believed many of the partying crowd were UK backpackers.
“You could hear lots of clearly English accents, and several people were wearing the white English football jerseys,” said Mr Hannam.
“We had to move through them on our path and the crowd was sort of pulsating… and well we thought we don’t really want to hang around here because it doesn’t look very safe.”
Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said he ‘was shocked at the scenes on Bronte Beach’ on Christmas Day and said the government would not hesitate to deport those involved.
‘Absolutely, under the migration act, if someone is threatening public safety or health, their visa can be cancelled and revoked,’ Mr Hawke told 2GB.
“Certainly the federal government is looking at that issue. If anyone is caught doing the wrong thing, their visa status will be brought before the federal government.
“People who are guests in our country also have to do the right thing, it is unacceptable for people who are on temporary visas to be breaching public health orders.
“We can deport people, we have chartered flights to return people to home countries.
‘We don’t want to have public health and safety jeopardised by a small group of people who are not respecting the country that they’ve come to.
“There are many options available to the department: You can put them into immigration detention, however we’re very happy to deport people, if people are flagrantly disobeying public health orders.”