Australia’s Immigration Minister has declared that he will be “happy to deport” Irish and British backpackers. The revellers are being blamed for breaking COVID rules at a mass beach gathering in Sydney on Christmas Day.
Since the gathering, a cluster of new COVID cases has formed in Sydney and local media is blaming a large number of Irish revellers. Irish and British backpackers were among the hundreds that gathered at the tightly packed event.
Very few people were wearing masks and no social distancing was being adhered to, leading police to break up the mass gathering.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said he was “shocked” and fired warnings to the travelling revellers for breaking COVID restrictions.
“The small minority of people who are doing the wrong thing need to understand they are guests in Australia. They are temporary visa holders, and if they breach their visa conditions, they’re subject to visa cancellation.
“Under the migration act, if someone is threatening public safety or health, their visa can be canceled and revoked.
“We don’t want to have public health and safety jeopardized by a small group of people who are not respecting the country that they’ve come to. We’re very happy to deport people if they are flagrantly disobeying public health orders.
“Sydneysiders would agree 10 months into a COVID pandemic, we all know the drill now, we all understand how difficult this has been around the world, we understand why we have to be doing what we’re doing.
“People who are guests in our country also have to be doing the right thing.”
Irish backpackers were also being blamed by local mayor, Paula Masselos, who said their community has worked hard to “keep us COVID free for many weeks”.
“This visitor behavior is appalling, disrespectful, and unacceptable, putting us all at risk,” she said. “Thanks to the riot squad for breaking up this gathering. One person charged.”
Hawke told the reporters that authorities will be keeping a close eye out for any gatherings, or mischief, on New Year’s Day in order to prevent further COVID catastrophe.
“I’ve instructed the Department of Home Affairs to work closely with NSW authorities in the lead-up to New Year’s Day as well to make sure everyone is doing the right thing and if anyone caught doing the wrong thing, that their visa status is brought before the government.”