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Fury over move to allow 400 worshippers to gather at Sydney mosque for Eid despite COVID-19 pandemic

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fury over move to allow 400 worshippers to gather at sydney mosque for eid despite covid 19 pandemic

The decision to give special permission for 400 worshippers to gather at a mosque to celebrate Eid despite COVID-19 restrictions has been slammed by local officials, who claim they were not even told about the exemption.

Social distancing restrictions in New South Wales prevent more than 100 people from gathering in places of worship.

But NSW Health gave permission for four times that number to attend the Auburn Gallipoli Mosque in western Sydney on Friday for Eid al-Adha prayers – a major religious event in the Islamic calendar.

Worshippers had to wear masks, but Cumberland City Council Mayor Steve Christou said he was ‘absolutely livid’ the state government would risk the health of residents during a pandemic.

Muslim worshippers leave Auburn Gallipoli Mosque in western Sydney after a mass prayer for the Eid al-Adha festival on Friday

Muslim worshippers leave Auburn Gallipoli Mosque in western Sydney after a mass prayer for the Eid al-Adha festival on Friday

Muslim worshippers leave Auburn Gallipoli Mosque in western Sydney after a mass prayer for the Eid al-Adha festival on Friday

‘This kind of behaviour from the state is inexcusable and I am absolutely livid that they would potentially jeopardise the health and wellbeing of our residents and the health of greater Sydney residents,’ he told The Daily Telegraph.

‘We either have a pandemic, which we acknowledge and adhere to the relevant health directives for one and all, or we don’t.’

Attendees had to sign in and were split into four zones, which included two levels of the mosque, a function hall and the car park. 

Up to 100 people were allowed inside at any one time, with up to 400 people allowed on the premises – far less than the several thousand who usually attend. 

Worshippers also wore stickers to designate the zone to which they were assigned. 

Mayor Christou – who claimed he only found out about the decision through the media – said though he would have opposed the exemption if he had known about it. 

‘I don’t understand how NSW Health can pick and choose who is at risk and who warrants an exemption,’ he said.

Worshippers wait in line to celebrate the Islamic holiday at the mosque on Friday (pictured). The local council's mayor said he was 'livid' that the mosque got an exemption

Worshippers wait in line to celebrate the Islamic holiday at the mosque on Friday (pictured). The local council's mayor said he was 'livid' that the mosque got an exemption

Worshippers wait in line to celebrate the Islamic holiday at the mosque on Friday (pictured). The local council’s mayor said he was ‘livid’ that the mosque got an exemption

Attendees had to sign in and were split into four zones as part of the agreed health protocol (pictured, staff stopping worshippers at the mosque in front of a table with hand sanitiser)

Attendees had to sign in and were split into four zones as part of the agreed health protocol (pictured, staff stopping worshippers at the mosque in front of a table with hand sanitiser)

Attendees had to sign in and were split into four zones as part of the agreed health protocol (pictured, staff stopping worshippers at the mosque in front of a table with hand sanitiser)

NSW Health said in a statement the mosque developed a ‘comprehensive safety plan’ and the government body were on site on the day to ensure the agreed procedures were being followed. 

Cumberland City Council Mayor Steve Christou. 'I don¿t understand how NSW Health can pick and choose who is at risk and who warrants an exemption,' he said

Cumberland City Council Mayor Steve Christou. 'I don¿t understand how NSW Health can pick and choose who is at risk and who warrants an exemption,' he said

Cumberland City Council Mayor Steve Christou. ‘I don’t understand how NSW Health can pick and choose who is at risk and who warrants an exemption,’ he said

The mosque’s one-off exemption comes after two cases of coronavirus were linked to a church and four more were tied to a funeral service in Sydney. 

Coronavirus cases have also been confirmed in the same area of western Sydney as the mosque, with Merrylands’ Advanced Early Learning Centre being forced to close last weekend when two workers there tested positive for COVID-19. 

The mosque’s president Abdurrahman Asaroglu had said previously the venue had implemented appropriate measures to reduce the risk of a coronavirus outbreak.

‘Our community is really understanding and they are OK to follow these measures — no shaking hands, no hugging — making sure that they just pray,’ Dr Asaroglu told ABC.

‘If everyone does the right thing I don’t think there will be any issues.’ 

NSW Health officials were on site to monitor compliance with social distancing, the government body said (pictured, at the mosque on Saturday)

NSW Health officials were on site to monitor compliance with social distancing, the government body said (pictured, at the mosque on Saturday)

NSW Health officials were on site to monitor compliance with social distancing, the government body said (pictured, at the mosque on Saturday)

A Muslim worshipper registers his name at the mosque. 'Our community is really understanding and they are OK to follow these measures ¿ no shaking hands, no hugging,' the mosque's president said before the event

A Muslim worshipper registers his name at the mosque. 'Our community is really understanding and they are OK to follow these measures ¿ no shaking hands, no hugging,' the mosque's president said before the event

A Muslim worshipper registers his name at the mosque. ‘Our community is really understanding and they are OK to follow these measures — no shaking hands, no hugging,’ the mosque’s president said before the event

In 2019, nearly 3,000 worshippers attended Eid al-Adha prayers at the mosque and thousands more spilled onto the streets nearby. 

Dr Asargolu said the large attendance last year could not be replicated in 2020. 

He said if more than 400 people arrive at the mosque, they would be turned away. 

‘If anybody is not abiding by the regulations, we have security to make sure that they are excluded,’ he said.  

Prime Minister Scott Morrison had said he was concerned with large gatherings at places of worship. 

Mr Morrison, who is a devout Christian, said he and wife Jenny had not been to church in months.

A worshipper wearing face mask (pictured) arrives at the Auburn Gallipoli Mosque on Friday alongside observers from NSW Health

A worshipper wearing face mask (pictured) arrives at the Auburn Gallipoli Mosque on Friday alongside observers from NSW Health

A worshipper wearing face mask (pictured) arrives at the Auburn Gallipoli Mosque on Friday alongside observers from NSW Health

Coronavirus restrictions in NSW mean places of worship are normally limited to 100 people inside unless they have an exemption. Pictured: The Auburn Gallipoli Mosque on Friday

Coronavirus restrictions in NSW mean places of worship are normally limited to 100 people inside unless they have an exemption. Pictured: The Auburn Gallipoli Mosque on Friday

Coronavirus restrictions in NSW mean places of worship are normally limited to 100 people inside unless they have an exemption. Pictured: The Auburn Gallipoli Mosque on Friday

‘I know faith is very important to people, but even at times like this, it’s even more important that we don’t gather in those large groups,’ he told 2GB radio on Friday.

‘As important as faith is, that we really do think of the health issues here.

‘I just want to encourage everyone to make positive decisions when it comes to how they choose to celebrate their faith over this important time for that (Islamic) community.’

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Australia

Sydney man pushes shopping trolley carrying friend into 40 cyclists

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sydney man pushes shopping trolley carrying friend into 40 cyclists

A man was allegedly caught on camera pushing a shopping trolley with his friend inside into the path of a group of cyclists travelling at almost 50km/hour.

CCTV footage captured at a Caltex service station in Dee Why, on Sydney’s northern beaches, shows several of the 40 riders tumble to the ground. 

Jack Maartensz, 26, faced Manly Local Court on Tuesday accused of deliberately mowing down the cyclists in the early hours of March 7 on Pittwater Road, Manly Daily reported. 

CCTV footage captured at a Caltex service station in Dee Why, on Sydney's Northern Beaches, shows a number of the 40 riders tumble to the ground

CCTV footage captured at a Caltex service station in Dee Why, on Sydney's Northern Beaches, shows a number of the 40 riders tumble to the ground

The footage captures the moments the riders cycle towards Maartensz

The footage captures the moments the riders cycle towards Maartensz

CCTV footage captured at a Caltex service station in Dee Why, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, shows a number of the 40 riders tumble to the ground 

He has pleaded guilty to two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and two counts of intentionally or recklessly destroy or damage property. 

But the 26-year-old has denied his actions were deliberate and is fighting a charge of intentionally throw object at vehicle. 

The court heard Maartensz had allegedly been drinking for 12 hours in the lead up to the moment caught on camera at about 5.40am.

Maartensz admitted the man depicted on tape was him but claimed he was simply giving his friend Brad Riddington a ride when he lost control of the trolley.

Maartensz admitted the man depicted on tape was him but claimed he was simply giving his friend Brad Riddington a ride when he lost control of the trolley

Maartensz admitted the man depicted on tape was him but claimed he was simply giving his friend Brad Riddington a ride when he lost control of the trolley

Maartensz admitted the man depicted on tape was him but claimed he was simply giving his friend Brad Riddington a ride when he lost control of the trolley 

He said he tried to pull the trolley back as it slipped down the service station driveway – but it was too late.   

Maartensz told the court he had no idea the cyclists were travelling towards them until the trolley hit them.  

His friend who was inside the trolley said he hadn’t noticed until the cyclists were on top of him. 

The cyclists from Manly Warringah Cycling Club were using lights while travelling at 42km/hour along the busy road before sunrise.

Their lights picked up something moving towards them on the left hand side but it was too late to take action.

Vision was captured outside the Caltex service station (pictured) in Dee Why on Sydney's Northern Beaches

Vision was captured outside the Caltex service station (pictured) in Dee Why on Sydney's Northern Beaches

Vision was captured outside the Caltex service station (pictured) in Dee Why on Sydney’s Northern Beaches

Cyclist Chris Taylor told the court the alleged actions did not appear to be an accident. 

‘He was head down, with the trolley and he was running at us,’ Mr Taylor said.

‘We were yelling ”no, no, no,”. He just kept his head down and ploughed into us.’  

Prosecutor Sgt Chris O’Brien agreed the CCTV footage proved the alleged actions appeared deliberate.

The case will return to court on December 4.  

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Coronavirus UK: Swingers’ party may have sparked outbreak

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coronavirus uk swingers party may have sparked outbreak

A swingers party may have sparked a second coronavirus outbreak in a Victorian country town.

Police have issued fines following investigations into an illegal gathering that took place at a home in Colac, 150km south-west of Melbourne, late last month.

A second outbreak of coronavirus rocked the town soon after, with the number of active cases in the Colac Otway Shire growing from eight in late August to 25 on September 8.

The spike in cases occurred weeks after an earlier cluster at a local abattoir sparked almost 100 cases. 

Word on the street according to angry locals is the illegal gathering in question was a swingers party, the Herald Sun reported.

Home to 12,000 residents, the country town of Colac was hit with a second coronavirus outbreak earlier this month. Pictured is the main street

Home to 12,000 residents, the country town of Colac was hit with a second coronavirus outbreak earlier this month. Pictured is the main street

Home to 12,000 residents, the country town of Colac was hit with a second coronavirus outbreak earlier this month. Pictured is the main street

It’s unclear whether there’s any connection between the gathering and the fresh outbreak of new cases. 

ABC reported earlier this month the town’s second outbreak after a resident contracted the virus while being treated in a Melbourne hospital.

He returned home and unknowingly passed the virus to his family, which spread into the community. 

Victoria Police confirmed they had been investigating a private gathering at a Colac home on August 29.

A spokesman added police were unaware of the incident until days later.

The town's second outbreak came weeks after an earlier cluster spread to 92 cases. Pictured are Colac healthcare workers at a pop up testing clinic in July

The town's second outbreak came weeks after an earlier cluster spread to 92 cases. Pictured are Colac healthcare workers at a pop up testing clinic in July

The town’s second outbreak came weeks after an earlier cluster spread to 92 cases. Pictured are Colac healthcare workers at a pop up testing clinic in July

‘Police did not attend the address on the day of the gathering, and only became aware of the potential breach of Chief Health Officer directions after they were alerted in the days following,’ the police spokesman told Daily Mail Australia.

‘Once the reports were received Victoria Police investigated and two fines for $1652 were issued to the homeowners.’  

Department of Health and Human Services is also aware of the illegal gathering but declined to comment on the specific case.

‘We respect the privacy of patients and we do not provide details about individual cases, unless it is necessary to do so in the interests of public health,’ a spokeswoman said.

‘There are strict procedures in place to protect the public whenever someone tests positive to coronavirus.’

Speculation was rife that the illegal gathering being investigated by police in Colac was a swingers party (stock image)

Speculation was rife that the illegal gathering being investigated by police in Colac was a swingers party (stock image)

Speculation was rife that the illegal gathering being investigated by police in Colac was a swingers party (stock image)

Home to 12,000 residents, Colac’s first outbreak originated at the local Australian Lamb Company abattoir, which grew from two cases on July 17 to 92 by August 6.

The outbreak prompted a community campaign which involved videos of local teachers, students, nurses, football coaches and business owners spreading a safety health message.

The number of active cases is now down to five in Colac,

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Model reveals she faces daily hate because of her unibrow

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model reveals she faces daily hate because of her unibrow

A model who chose to embrace her unibrow after years of overplucking has admitted that she faces daily hate from trolls telling her it looks like she has the McDonald’s logo on her forehead and that she’d be ‘hotter’ if she shaved it off.

Model Haylee Michalski, 22, from Charleston, South Carolina, started plucking the hair in between her eyebrows as a teenager as she was afraid what people would say if she let them grow into each other.

Haylee would spend hours over plucking the area to make sure her two brows were as far apart as possible. The process was exhausting and time consuming and fed up with the constant maintenance, Haylee decided to let them gradually grow closer every month.

Unique: Model Haylee Michalski, 22, has revealed how embracing her natural unibrow has seen her face daily hate from trolls on social media

Unique: Model Haylee Michalski, 22, has revealed how embracing her natural unibrow has seen her face daily hate from trolls on social media

Unique: Model Haylee Michalski, 22, has revealed how embracing her natural unibrow has seen her face daily hate from trolls on social media

Natural: The South Carolina native decided to let her eyebrows grow out in the summer of 2019 when she was living in New York City

Natural: The South Carolina native decided to let her eyebrows grow out in the summer of 2019 when she was living in New York City

Natural: The South Carolina native decided to let her eyebrows grow out in the summer of 2019 when she was living in New York City 

Time consuming: Before that summer, Haylee used to spend hours overplucking her brows in order to make sure they were as far apart as possible

Time consuming: Before that summer, Haylee used to spend hours overplucking her brows in order to make sure they were as far apart as possible

Time consuming: Before that summer, Haylee used to spend hours overplucking her brows in order to make sure they were as far apart as possible

Time consuming: Before that summer, Haylee used to spend hours overplucking her brows in order to make sure they were as far apart as possible

Time consuming: Before that summer, Haylee used to spend hours overplucking her brows in order to make sure they were as far apart as possible 

It wasn’t until Haylee moved to New York City for a few months in summer 2019 that she decided to let her eyebrows meet and form a unibrow. Haylee found that people were always complimentary of her bold look in the big city but when she went back to her hometown months later, she received a different reaction entirely.

As soon as she touched down at the airport, people stared at her. The majority of her family, whilst largely accepting of it now, initially couldn’t understand why she’d want to have a unibrow.

Having a unibrow has not stopped Haylee from being able to find modeling jobs but it has made booking some jobs tougher – with some advising her to remove it. 

Despite this, she says that a lot of people in the beauty and fashion industry appreciate her unique look. On social media however, Haylee receives some hate for her look with people telling her that it looks like she has the McDonald’s logo on her forehead and that she would be prettier if she shaved it off.

Haylee doesn’t let these comments get to her because she is proud to be different and she hopes to be able to inspire others to embrace what makes them unique – even if it goes against society’s perception of beauty.

‘I used to over pluck my eyebrows so they were so far apart because I didn’t know how to do my eyebrows. I was afraid to let them grow in close to each other so I would keep them as far apart as possible. It was horrible,’ she said.

‘However, over the years, I decided to let them grow in and they began to get closer and closer each month. Finally, when I moved to New York, I decided to let my full unibrow take shape.

Cruel: Haylee is often told that her eyebrows look like a McDonald's logo, and she has been urged to shave her brows off by trolls who insist she will be 'hotter' without the unibrow

Cruel: Haylee is often told that her eyebrows look like a McDonald's logo, and she has been urged to shave her brows off by trolls who insist she will be 'hotter' without the unibrow

Cruel: Haylee is often told that her eyebrows look like a McDonald’s logo, and she has been urged to shave her brows off by trolls who insist she will be ‘hotter’ without the unibrow

Staying strong: She doesn't let these comments get to her because she is proud to be different and she hopes to be able to inspire others to embrace what makes them unique

Staying strong: She doesn't let these comments get to her because she is proud to be different and she hopes to be able to inspire others to embrace what makes them unique

Staying strong: She doesn't let these comments get to her because she is proud to be different and she hopes to be able to inspire others to embrace what makes them unique

Staying strong: She doesn't let these comments get to her because she is proud to be different and she hopes to be able to inspire others to embrace what makes them unique

Staying strong: She doesn’t let these comments get to her because she is proud to be different and she hopes to be able to inspire others to embrace what makes them unique

Harsh: 'A few of my friends were very supportive but I definitely got more "ews" and "nos" than anything from my family and strangers here in the south,' she admitted

Harsh: 'A few of my friends were very supportive but I definitely got more "ews" and "nos" than anything from my family and strangers here in the south,' she admitted

Harsh: ‘A few of my friends were very supportive but I definitely got more “ews” and “nos” than anything from my family and strangers here in the south,’ she admitted

‘I was nervous before growing my unibrow in. I knew that it was something different – something that a lot of people did not like or appreciate – but there aren’t a lot of people who will wear their unibrow with pride, and I wanted to be one of those people who isn’t afraid of what society says about their version of beauty.

‘I first began to embrace my unibrow in NYC in the summer of 2019. Before it became as bold as it is now, nobody really said a thing to me about it. Living in New York, a lot of people would compliment my new look.

‘Not everyone was a fan of the unibrow when it came to modeling, but a lot of people did express their love for it. When it comes down to booking work I am directed to shaving and waxing it to get rid of the unibrow. 

‘I have been told, “The unibrow look is not the right look and nobody wants to book me because of it.” I have found a lot of people who do appreciate it though.

‘When I moved back to South Carolina in October of 2019, I immediately got looks the second I landed in the Charleston airport.

‘A few of my friends were very supportive but I definitely got more “ews” and “nos” than anything from my family and strangers here in the south.

‘I get mocked mostly on social media sites like TikTok because of my look. People are constantly telling me that I would be ‘pretty’ if I shaved the unibrow. Some will just comment the razor emoji to shave it off.

‘People tell me that I have the McDonald’s logo sign on my forehead. Some say I look like Anthony Davis’ twin sister. My favorite one is that my unibrow resembles Frida Khalo, which I actually appreciate because I view her as an inspiration and idol. I definitely get more hate than positive comments. Everyday there is someone new.

Proud: Haylee says her unibrow has not affected her dating life, and she insists that her girlfriend loves her natural look

Proud: Haylee says her unibrow has not affected her dating life, and she insists that her girlfriend loves her natural look

Proud: Haylee says her unibrow has not affected her dating life, and she insists that her girlfriend loves her natural look 

Concern: She says her parents were worried about her growing out her unibrow, because they feared that Haylee would no longer be able to find work as a model

Concern: She says her parents were worried about her growing out her unibrow, because they feared that Haylee would no longer be able to find work as a model

Concern: She says her parents were worried about her growing out her unibrow, because they feared that Haylee would no longer be able to find work as a model

Concern: She says her parents were worried about her growing out her unibrow, because they feared that Haylee would no longer be able to find work as a model

Concern: She says her parents were worried about her growing out her unibrow, because they feared that Haylee would no longer be able to find work as a model 

Confident: 'I feel pretty. I feel proud. I feel confident. I love my unibrow. I adore it. It's unique and different,' Haylee says of her prominent brow

Confident: 'I feel pretty. I feel proud. I feel confident. I love my unibrow. I adore it. It's unique and different,' Haylee says of her prominent brow

Confident: ‘I feel pretty. I feel proud. I feel confident. I love my unibrow. I adore it. It’s unique and different,’ Haylee says of her prominent brow 

‘I would definitely say that having a unibrow has made booking work a little harder but it has not stopped me from getting a job. Most people appreciate it if they are in the beauty and fashion industry. For those who don’t, they tend to cover up the unibrow with foundation. I have booked a handful of shoots because of my unibrow – they appreciate it.

‘My unibrow has not affected my love life or dating life. My girlfriend is very supportive of my unibrow and everything it stands for. I would say that a lot of men will comment to both me and my girlfriend that I should get rid of it and shave it to be “hotter”. We both get a lot of hate in that sense.

‘My parents both thought I was ridiculous for growing it out and they were afraid that my work would stop. My sister was supportive, but she has always been my best support system. My grandparents are still coming around. They do not favor the idea of a unibrow. My friends on the other hand are just as proud of it as I am. They love seeing my unibrow.

‘How do I feel about myself? I feel pretty. I feel proud. I feel confident. I love my unibrow. I adore it. It’s unique and different. People are so afraid to be different, but isn’t that what makes you, you? There will always be someone to tear you down, but I am proud of my unibrow and I will always feel good about it.’

Haylee shares pictures of her unibrow on Instagram and she has recently set up a page called @unibrowpride to encourage others to embrace theirs and show it to the world.

‘My advice is just to do whatever makes you feel comfortable. I never want anyone to feel pressured by society about how they are supposed to look,’ she said. 

Bold: Haylee wants to encourage others to embrace their natural looks no matter what criticism they face from others

Bold: Haylee wants to encourage others to embrace their natural looks no matter what criticism they face from others

Bold: Haylee wants to encourage others to embrace their natural looks no matter what criticism they face from others

Bold: Haylee wants to encourage others to embrace their natural looks no matter what criticism they face from others

Bold: Haylee wants to encourage others to embrace their natural looks no matter what criticism they face from others 

Role model: 'No one should ever feel ashamed to embrace themselves. I want to show people that it's okay to embrace body hair, especially a unibrow,' she explained

Role model: 'No one should ever feel ashamed to embrace themselves. I want to show people that it's okay to embrace body hair, especially a unibrow,' she explained

Role model: ‘No one should ever feel ashamed to embrace themselves. I want to show people that it’s okay to embrace body hair, especially a unibrow,’ she explained

Spreading the word: Haylee has even started a hashtag trend #unibrowpride in the hopes of urging others to proudly embrace their own bushy brows

Spreading the word: Haylee has even started a hashtag trend #unibrowpride in the hopes of urging others to proudly embrace their own bushy brows

Spreading the word: Haylee has even started a hashtag trend #unibrowpride in the hopes of urging others to proudly embrace their own bushy brows

‘If someone wants to grow out their unibrow then by all means they should grow it out and embrace it. If not, then they do not have too. Everyone is beautiful with or without a unibrow. No one should ever feel ashamed to embrace themselves.

‘I want to show people that it’s okay to embrace body hair, especially a unibrow. People are so scared of what others think but as long as you feel good and confident in yourself then who cares what others think. I want people to be proud of their unibrow.

‘Be proud of your unibrow, otherwise we’d all look the same under society’s version of ‘perfect’ and that is no fun at all.

‘I would like to say that I appreciate those who see my unibrow as something to love and be proud of. I adore all of those who embrace their unibrow.

‘I have started an Instagram page for those with a unibrow who want to appreciate and embrace themselves. The Instagram page is @unibrowpride and it’s to show everyone out there that you should be proud of your unibrow.

‘To have pride in something is to be especially proud. I want to people to have pride in their unibrows – to show them off.

‘I love the way I look. I am proud of my unibrow and I can’t explain how much joy it brings me to have people tell me that my unibrow has made them feel more confident in themselves and has made them decide to grow their own.

‘I have #unibrowpride and I hope everyone with a unibrow will have pride and confidence too.’ 

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