Visitors break in to pool, lax COVID attitude hammered
Thousands have flocked to a closed children's pool at Geelong's Eastern Beach despite stern warnings about social distancing.
Photos taken over the weekend at the popular site showed crowds gathered at the council-run children's pool near the foreshore, which was closed for maintenance.
Witnesses aired concerns about a lack of social distancing and others not wearing masks.
It came as Melburnians flocked to the regions to enjoy their first weekend of freedom after the ring of steel was lifted.
Greater Geelong acting economy, investment and attractions director Tim Ellis said the city had "multiple and prominent signs" advertising the children's pool was closed.
"City staff discovered that the locks to the pool gate had been broken and some 'closed' signage removed," he said.
"Staff moved people on from the pool and private security was put in place to monitor the facility.
It's understood the site has been closed for maintenance and repair in the lead up to the patrolled season in December, which will operate in line with COVID restrictions.
"It is obviously extremely disappointing to see people ignore that the pool is closed and also ignore COVID-19 restrictions, putting themselves and others at risk," he said.
"We urge people to adhere to the current COVID-19 restrictions and follow any informational signage installed at City facilities which is there to keep us all safe."
But the surge of visitors also had a positive impact on businesses across the region.
Tourism Greater Geelong Bellarine executive director Brett Ince said anecdotal evidence and early numbers indicated Geelong and its surrounding coastal towns had experienced a "very positive" weekend despite the overcast weather.
"As we understand it, lots of accommodation has been booked up and a lot of Melburnians have been travelling to their holiday homes in the region," he said.
Mr Ince also paid credit to the city's metropolitan visitors, who he said he'd observed largely following social distancing rules and wearing masks.
"I was in central Geelong yesterday and saw a lot of people doing the right thing and being respectful," he said.
Similar crowds flocked to businesses along the Great Ocean Road, many of which are heavily reliant on visiting Melbourne clientele.
Cape Otway Lightstation manager Trish Goodlet estimated 300 people visited the historic site yesterday.
"Visitor numbers have been really strong this weekend," she said.
"It's been so wonderful to welcome everyone back."
Eased restrictions meant the lightstation's iconic buildings could reopen for tours in time for the influx of visitors.
"We'd reduced entry because we could only have the grounds open," she said.
"The vibrancy and wonderful people has been a real boost to staff morale after a difficult year and it's been so wonderful to welcome everyone back."
Originally published as Visitors break in to pool, lax COVID attitude hammered