UPDATED

Numbers drop dramatically over weekend at Cronulla

Updated

Cronulla was largely deserted on Sunday after complaints the mall and Esplanade were packed on Saturday.

Photos taken by the Leader about midday show an empty mall and few walkers on the Esplanade.

However, comments on the Leader Facebook page reported bigger numbers in the afternoon.

The weather would have played a part with the reduction, but social media comments and photos and calls to a radio station about the situation on Saturday may have helped the coronavirus social distancing message sink in.

TV reports on large numbers at Manly on Saturday may have been another influence.

At a media conference on Sunday, Health Minister Brad Hazzard hit out at people who have been pictured not observing the social distancing rules.

"As Health Minister here in NSW, I cannot tell you how disappointed I am there is a relatively small but very significant section of our community who think the world is as it was in 2019," he said.

"It is not. It is not!

Mr Hazzard said, "Every single person in NSW should be behaving today as if they have COVID-19".

"This virus can do its evil best but it is not a high jumper, it's not a long jumper and, as long as you are one and half metres away from somebody else, you have a fairly good chance, a reasonable chance, of not actually getting transmission of the virus," he said.

Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said "kids need to take it seriously", and adults had to be role models.

"There is no better time to be a 16-year-old," Mr Fuller said. "You can stay in bed all day, you can sit in front of the TV all day, you don't have to leave the house. Please take it seriously."

Mr Fuller also had a message for councils.

"You manage the beaches and parks," he said. "If there's a 30 degree day coming, you need to close the beach three or four days out, not wait until the day."

Sutherland Shire mayor Carmelo Pesce said he received complaints about numbers on the Esplanade on Saturday, but believed "99.9 per cent of people are doing the right thing".

Cr Pesce said families could walk together as long as they kept their distance from other members of the public.

On Sunday, there were only about 300 people on all Cronulla beaches.

Mr Hazzard also said he was "mortified" people had been stealing hand sanitiser, masks and gloves, provided for front line staff in hospitals.

This went right against the Australian ethos of "mateship" and decency, he said.

"I have even heard reports of hand cleaners being ripped off the walls in hospitals. I can't think of anything more appalling."

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in NSW increased by 174 in the 24-hours to 8pm on Saturday, taking the total to 1791. Eight people have died.

Mr Fuller said the operation at Sydney Airport to place returning overseas travellers into forced isolation was working smoothly.

We were expecting 3300 people to return today," he said.

"Just over 1000 people have landed on 12 planes [up to midday]. The loads have been about 25 per cent smaller than what we anticipated. I am unsure whether that is a by-product [of the new policy] but we will monitor closely."

Mr Fuller said 30 people had been placed in high level isolation due to either feeling unwell or having symptoms of COVID-19.

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