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Car parks along Cronulla beaches to be closed over Easter if social distancing is not observed

Car parks along Cronulla beaches, as well as part of the Esplanade, will be closed over the Easter break if the areas become crowded and social distancing regulations are not observed.

However, the council hopes to avoid having to close the beaches, believing they provide an important place for people to exercise during the coronavirus pandemic.

Bayside Council, on Monday night, began closing eight kilometres of beaches and car parks from Kyeemagh to Captain Cook Bridge, while keeping open walking and cycling paths along the edge of the bay.

However, Sutherland Shire Council's position on keeping Cronulla beaches open has not changed.

Mayor Carmelo Pesce, who said a fortnight ago people would "go stir crazy" if the beaches were not available for a swim, run or walk, said this week "the beaches are not the problem".

"On Sunday, there were 300 to 500 people along our beaches," he said.

"The problem is the number of people in the areas around them.

"On Sunday afternoon, we closed the car park at Don Lucas Reserve at Wanda when it became too packed.

"We will do that again this week with any of the car parks if necessary."

Cr Pesce said the number of people on the Esplanade between Cronulla and North Cronulla beaches would continue to be monitored closely.

Barricades have been stacked at each end in case they are needed.

The council was prepared to close that section of the Esplanade on Sunday if social distancing regulations were not followed, but the action was not deemed to be necessary.

Cr Pesce said, while some people were using social media to call for the beaches to be closed, there were others "begging me to keep them open".

"There is also the practical question of how do you effectively close seven kilometres of beaches and police it?"

Cr Pesce spent five hours with lifeguards on Sunday in a buggy driving up and down the beaches and in the control centre at Wanda, where the CCTV system allows operators to zoom in on any area from Boat Harbour to Jibbon Point.

"The lifeguards are doing an amazing job," he said.

"When I was out with them, if they saw someone sitting on the beach, they would pull up and politely tell them that, if they weren't swimming or exercising, they needed to leave."

Cr Pesce said comments on social media that only Cronulla residents should be allowed to use the area were "ridiculous".

"Everyone who lives in the shire is a ratepayer," he said.

However, Cr Pesce said the situation would be a lot easier if more people exercised in their own neighbourhoods.

"We live in a beautiful part of the world, so instead of jumping in the car and heading for Cronulla, why not explore some of the other areas, including the streets around your own home?"

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