'Don't Hang Around': Shopping Centre Crowds Spark Warning From Health Authorities
Thousands of Australians flocked to shopping centres across the country during the Mother's Day weekend, raising concerns about a lack of social distancing.
After Prime Minister Scott Morrison signalled states and territories would begin to relax coronavirus measures on Friday, some shops decided to reopen over the weekend.
But after large crowds were photographed at some shopping centres ahead of Mother's Day, some have expressed fears that Australians were becoming too complacent about social distancing.
One Twitter user in regional Queensland said shops were packed over the weekend, making it near-impossible to keep a 1.5 metre distance from other shoppers.
Another shopper from Sydney said they feared a second spike of coronavirus, with some Australians appearing to have reverted to a "pre-COVID" mindset, while a person from Adelaide lamented their local shopping centre was "so busy" they felt they had no option but to leave.
Others online have claimed trolleys at some supermarkets were also no longer being sanitised.
At a press conference on Sunday, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said Australians have a "personal responsibility" to avoided crowded areas.
"If you are going to a shopping centre to buy something, go and buy something, but don't hang around the shopping centre for half-an-hour mingling for no purpose. Go home," Murphy said.
"If you are arriving at a shopping centre and you find a crowd at an escalator not wanting to practice social distancing or crowding together, don't go in," he added.
If you see someone not practicing social distancing or behaving irresponsibly, tell them.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also expressed her concern about the images of shoppers crowding malls.
While announcing an easing of coronavirus measures for the state on Sunday, Berejiklian urged residents to maintain social distancing.
"If you happen to be in a shopping mall or retail outlet, you maintain social distancing," Berejiklian said.
"There is no point letting go of all the hard work we've done to see the virus start winning again."
"Please acknowledge that the easing of the restrictions is a sign about how far we come. Please also acknowledge that we should - all of us - need to maintain vigilance."
South Australia's Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Mike Cusack also warned residents a "second peak" of the virus was always possible.
"We've seen the devastation that can be caused so I would strongly encourage people not to become complacent and to continue to do the right things," he said.
He added people's desire to get out after a period of lockdown or restrictions was understandable.
"But clearly the more we have people bunched together, the more opportunity the virus has to jump from person to person," Cusack said.
"That effectively increases the risk of further outbreaks in the state."
Just 14 new cases were reported across Australia on Sunday, bringing the nationwide toll to 6,941 with 97 deaths.
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