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HomeARCHIVEConfusion over Covid Christmas

Confusion over Covid Christmas

A word from Manly Observer

Police officers were spotted politely asking people playing on Manly Beach or sunbathing along the Shelly Beach walkway to move on yesterday (23 December) as part of the Public Health Order in place. Pandemic, Avalon cluster, etc, you know the story by now. But are people allowed to play at the beach under the new Christmas rules for Northern Beaches residents? Can we have our lunch at the beach and foreshore?

Yes, no, maybe

We spent an entire day trying to get to the bottom of this question and came up with… yes, kinda, possibly, maybe…

Health Minister Brad Hazzard made it clear on ABC radio yesterday that not only were southern Northern Beaches residents allowed to have up to 10 visitors in their home over the Christmas period (today, tomorrow and Boxing Day), but they were encouraged to do so outdoors. People in the north could gather outside too, but with five people from the same area only.

At the time, official advice was in fact that gatherings were not to take place outside of the home over Christmas. By this morning (24 December) it had changed again, and NSW Health had put on their website and official alerts that public gatherings were allowed to take place with those who come to your home for Christmas (within the allowed limits depending on your area) but threw in a ‘however many of these places may be closed’.


We went back to Manly MP James Griffin on this, asking “Beach, yes or no tomorrow?”

“My advice from the Premier’s Office is that please take a common-sense approach… but the Health Orders do say you can be outside with your family plus 10 guests. As long as no one joins. Tough I know but we can’t legislate everything; Council can determine what they would like to open or not.”

So that rests the buck with Council, who up until today had no expectation of people outdoors over this period.


We’ve heard stories from people who had already been told by Council that Manly Dam picnic reservations held for three months in advance were cancelled because the area will be closed.

Council hasn’t provided any additional information (we will update if we hear back), but they have said on their website that their facilities and playgrounds are closed, and there will be the removal of beach flags until “December 27 inclusive”. We haven’t heard back further from NSW Health on the rules and we are still waiting to hear from NSW Police if they are instructed to move people on from loitering on our beaches tomorrow as they have done previously this week. Getting answers on the eve of Christmas is no tall order, and we still have presents to wrap…


We hate to speculate, which is why we spent most of the day trying to get black and white answers. We got grey, so here’s our best attempt at answering the question we keep getting in our inbox:

If you’re having people over for some Christmas cheer and it seems the outdoors will be safer, do that. Otherwise, stay home.  If there are areas that can be closed with a gate, like Manly Dam, chances are that gate will be closed. You’re probably not going to be given grief if you have your lunch on the beach and make a few sandcastles with your family but if it gets crowded pack up your stuff and go.  Wherever you are, keep some distance. If you feel a bit off, go get a test –  COVID-19 tests still available throughout the Christmas period.

Ultimately if you’re in a situation and you don’t know the rules, let common sense be your arbiter.  


Oh, and Merry F*&ing Christmas!

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

Kim Smee, Editor

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