Police crack down on Byron Bay illegal beach parties

About 200 backpackers have allegedly gathered at an illegal beach party in Byron Bay, just hours after health authorities warned mass gatherings could easily become “superspreader events”.

Furious locals took to social media to show images of trash, including empty bottles of alcohol and dumped eskies and bins scattered across Belongil Beach on Sunday morning.

The images were accompanied with a post saying the disgusting mess was the “remains of a backpacker beach party” from Boxing Day.

“I know it was a backpackers party because I was tasked to find a lost phone,” Ivan Saric wrote.

“There were smouldering logs from the fire and broken glass throughout the sand. The sand had so much buried trash that I was stepping on buried bottles, cans and trash of every description. This is bloody disgusting.”

Mr Saric alleged about 200 people had attended the gathering.

“The fire would have been visible from most beaches in the bay,” he said.

“The beach needs patrolling to stop this c**p, maybe locals that live nearby can report to the police.”

The Tweed and Byron Police District also said officers had been called to break up about 300 people at Belongil Beach in the early hours on Sunday.

There were also 300 people gathered at another party at Main Beach.

Under the current restrictions, outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than 100 people in a public place including beaches and parks.

NSW Police said they had seen an increase in large public gatherings requiring “significant clean-up efforts”.

Police moved on large crowds gathered at Apex Park on Thursday and Friday, and were again called to the National Park area at Tyagarah about midnight on Saturday – where another illegal party had been organised.

Tweed/Byron Police District Commander Superintendent David Roptell warned police would be focusing on illegal parties over New Year’s.

“This year’s Christmas and New Year’s celebrations must be conducted in a COVID-safe environment,” he said.

“In saying that, we have a very clear message to those choosing to come to Byron over the Christmas and New Year period – this year is very different, there will be no large gatherings, no dance parties in the park. Social distancing is the new normal, and we all have to do our bit to stop the spread.”

It comes after NSW Police were called to Bronte Beach in Sydney‘s eastern suburbs to break up large crowds gathered at a Christmas Day party.

There were scores of revellers in Santa hats who appeared to be giving little consideration to social distancing.

It prompted a stern warning from NSW health authorities that these type of gatherings were not encouraged over Christmas and New Years over fears they could turn into “superspreader events”.

“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,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said on Saturday.

“Let me tell you, that event, I am hoping, will not become a superspreader event. But there’s every chance that it could be.

“Obviously in the earlier stages of the pandemic we had some challenges with backpackers who clearly wanted to party in the eastern suburbs. It cannot go on.”

Gladys Berejiklian will address the media later on Sunday morning with the state’s latest coronavirus case numbers.

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