Bondi Beach, one of Australia’s most famous stretches of sand, could become partially privatized next year if plans are approved by the local government. The Amalfi Beach Club, a local business named after a famous section of the Italian coast, wants to set up a members-only area of the beloved beach near Sydney, where customers would be served food and drinks in socially-distanced paid-for cabanas on the sand.

The proposal was originally brought to the city in May, which turned it down. But the business is arguing that because travelling internationally is currently banned from Australia because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this experience would bring a taste of the Mediterranean closer to home and have submitted the proposal again. The current proposal says the beach club would operate between February and May 2021.

“This summer international travel will be limited”, the company posted in a petition to garner local support. “Those who may have sojourned to the usual European beach hotspots over our winter will spend the year in Australia supporting the local economy instead. Intrepid Sydney locals, however, need not fret, as we will bring ‘Euro beach chic’ to them. In addition to celebrating our wonderful Bondi Beach in a new, vibrant and sophisticated way, which will help rebuild its international reputation in a post COVID-19 world, Amalfi Beach Club will be an important adjunct for local business to generate an income”.

People enjoying Bondi Beach. ©Jonathon Stokes/Lonely Planet

Comments on social media were mixed, with some users saying that it was ‘about time’ for a beach club, but others deriding the idea as ‘elitist’ and worrying that the beach will only be ‘open and accessible to all who pay’.

Bondi Beach was closed for several weeks in March and April at the peak of the pandemic after large groups gathered despite health regulations. A drive-through COVID-19 testing centre was later constructed in the beach’s car park.

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