Australia fines nude sunbathers who got lost in forest for breaching Covid-19 lockdown
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Authorities in New South Wales, Australia, are struggling to get ahead of a recent outbreak of coronavirus cases driven by the delta variant, despite the country's stringent virus restrictions.
But there was one incident they could not have prepared for, NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller told reporters Monday during a news conference: the case of two naked sunbathers who were startled by a deer and ran into a forest, where they became lost and required a helicopter rescue.
The rendezvous cost each $1 000 Australian dollars (around R10 800) in fines for breaking public health orders prohibiting residents of greater Sydney from traveling beyond the city. Police said in a statement that they had located one naked 30-year-old man with a backpack in the Royal national park, about 25 miles from the center of Sydney. The second man, age 49, was found partially clothed nearby.
It is "difficult to legislate against idiots," Fuller said of the incident.
It was not immediately clear how the deer scared the men and why they decided to escape into the bushland.
"Clearly putting people at risk by leaving home without a proper reason, and I think then on top of that, getting lost in the national park and diverting important resources away from the health operation, I think they should be embarrassed," Fuller continued.
"But, again, they both received a $1,000 fine. Now, it's only a small percentage of the New South Wales people that are not following the health guidelines, but I can assure you, if you breach the health orders or the guidelines, you will be punished," he added, according to the Guardian.
The incident, however, did provide a collective moment of laughs for many Australians, who have watched the recent rise in coronavirus cases and resulting lockdowns with renewed trepidation.
"Let those among us who have NOT been startled by a deer while sunbaking naked and then run into a forest before getting lost requiring police to render assistance cast the first stone," tweeted Malaysian Australian chef Adam Liaw.
"In the interests of public morale, I demand one story like this every day for the duration of lockdown," he added.
Police said in a statement that they had issued a total of 44 fines Sunday for violations of pandemic-related public health rules. Among the violators were four people found not wearing proper face masks, which incurred a fine of $150 ($200 Australian dollars) each.
Beginning Saturday, around 5 million residents of Sydney have been ordered to stay at home until at least July 9. People can leave homes only for essential work, small exercise groups, and for medical care, grocery shopping and other essential services.
Fewer than 5% of Australians are fully vaccinated, but life in much of the country had largely returned to pre-pandemic times. However, a recent virus outbreak has shattered the country's relative sense of success in curbing the pandemic, with authorities warning that further restrictions could follow.