Crowded Australian beaches prompt new restrictions to combat coronavirus

Scenes of crowded beaches in defiance of social distancing guidelines have spurred Australian officials to take tougher steps to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Australia's prime minister has ordered a shutdown of all non-essential services as coronavirus cases spike in the country, according to a report Sunday.

Pubs, clubs, gyms, movie theaters and places of worship have been ordered to close as of midday Monday, while restaurants and cafes will have to switch to take-out only, the BBC reports.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the new restrictions after a national cabinet meeting.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22: A beach closed sign on Manly Beach on March 22, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22: A beach closed sign on Manly Beach on March 22, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

The new measures come after large crowds gathered Saturday on Sydney's beaches. including world-famous Bondi Beach, flouting social distancing advice.

"What happened in Bondi was unacceptable, and the local council must take steps to stop that from occurring,” said Greg Hunt, Australia's health minister, according to Sky News.

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Morrison said federal and state governments decided to act because Australians were not obeying health guidelines, according to the BBC.

But he added: "We are not putting in place lockdowns that put people in and confine them to their homes. That is not a measure that has been contemplated at this point."

Australia now has at least 1,315 coronavirus cases --  a number has risen sharply over the last few days.

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New South Wales, home to Sydney, has the most cases with 533, the BBC reported. Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, has 296 cases.

Morrison said he hopes to keep schools open, with parents having the option of keeping their children at home during the crisis.

"I don't want to see our children lose an entire year of their education," he said.