The NSW preliminary round for Miss World Australia went ahead in Sydney on Sunday nearly a week and a half after the government advised social distancing rules across the country amid the coronavirus crisis.
The event took place at Sir Stamford Hotel in Circular Quay, with models, judges and guests present for the runway event that would determine the 18 models going through to the NSW state finals round.
In photos shared on social media, models could be seen standing next to each other, failing to maintain the 1.5 metre distance advised by state and federal governments.
“You should all stay at home!!” one person wrote on an image shared by @mishmish.photography on Instagram.
The Miss World Australia event took place two days after thousands of people flocked to Sydney beaches and sat in close proximity to each other causing global outrage and scoldings from federal and state leaders and medical experts.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday ordered a complete shutdown of bars, restaurants, event spaces, cafes, gyms and churches in an effort to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve seen some irresponsible behaviour from people who were told to quarantine and have not,” Morrison said.
“And they have spread the virus. We now have to be absolutely rigid.”
The PM previously banned all non-essential gatherings of 100 people or more, announcing venues that host less than 100 people must provide four square metres of space per person in an enclosed area.
“That’s 2m by 2m. So for example, if you’ve got a room, if you’ve got a premises, if you’ve got a meeting room, that’s 100 square metres, then you can have 25 people in that room,” Morrison recently told reporters.
One of the pageant’s participants told HuffPost Australia that the event followed this rule.
“We were told by the organisers of the event that they would follow new ban procedures, which was a limit of 100 people,” said model Alisha Shivani. “Four police officers arrived to ensure that this was the case and they said the event was allowed to go forward.
“From what I can estimate, there were about 80 people at the event (40 guests and judges in one room and 40 contestants in another room). All chairs and people were to be distanced whilst standing, sitting and talking.”
Alisha also explained that all models were required to use provided hand sanitiser before touching the microphone or any shared object, and no handshakes or hugs were allowed.
“The staff of the building wore masks and gloves during the whole event,” she added, “and we were to allow the staff handle the elevator buttons to minimise the spread of germs”.
The afternoon event provided drinks and canapes for attendees, before the catwalk was underway.
At time of publication, Miss World Australia and Sir Stamford Hotel had not responded to HuffPost Australia’s request for comment.
Miss World Australia is a popular beauty pageant that has made the likes of Erin Holland and Madeline Cowe household names in the fashion and entertainment industry.