By Lidia Kelly
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian officials closed Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach on Saturday after thousands of people flocked there in recent days, defying social distancing orders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, amid an unusually warm autumn spell.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the crowds on the country’s most famous strip of sand were “unacceptable” as he reported the number of infections across Australia had risen to 874. The death toll was seven, unchanged from a day earlier.
New South Wales state police minister David Elliott announced Bondi’s closure, warning “this is going to become the new norm” if people did not comply with regulations that prohibit more than 500 people gathering at a non-essential event.
“This is not something we are doing because we are the fun police,” Elliott said in a televised news conference. “This is about saving lives.”
“We will be closing down the type of iconic activities…