Coronavirus: Hundreds flock to Bondi Beach as Australia eases lockdown
Australian states are starting to relax some restrictions as the local rate of new infections slows to barely 1% per day, compared to 25% a month ago. Bondi Beach has reopened with hundreds of surfers hitting the waves - but the sand itself remains out of bounds.
Hundreds of surfers have returned to Australia’s famous Bondi Beach for the first time since it was closed five weeks ago due to COVID-19 restrictions. People are now permitted to swim or surf at Sydney’s Bondi and Bronte beaches, and surf only at Tamarama beach, between 7am and 5pm on weekdays.
But all land-based activities on the beach, such as jogging, sunbathing, and social gatherings, continue to be suspended.
With new, daily infections slowing to barely 1% for a third consecutive week -- compared to 25% increases a month ago -- authorities have begun to relax some restrictions. Australia recorded just one new case of COVID-19 from an unknown source in the past 24 hours, suggesting community transmission had almost stopped, said Health Minister Greg Hunt.
Waverly Council, home to Bondi Beach, said in a statement that the water can be accessed for "the sole purpose of exercising for surfers and swimmers between the hours of 7 am and 5 p.m. on weekdays commencing Tuesday 28 April."
"The Council will review these measures on an ongoing basis, including whether to provide access on weekends," it added.
We've just announced ‘Swim & Go’ and ‘Surf & Go’ measures at Bondi and Bronte beaches starting next Tuesday 28 April from 7am to 5pm weekdays. ????♀️ ???? Find out more at https://t.co/Qel1ra2ETv pic.twitter.com/eIlGuuimUZ— Waverley Council (@WaverleyCouncil) April 22, 2020
Swimmers and surfers were delighted after the news and flocked to the popular beach.
The feeling when they open the ocean again ✨⚡️????♀️????♀️????????. . . . #isolife #bondibeachsydney #bonditobronte #bonditocoogee #easternsuburbs #easternsuburbsmums #ilovebondi #bondiicebergs #northbondi #brontebeach #bondimums #fitmums #beachmum #bondilife #bondilifeguards #beachliving #bondifood #northbondifish #bondiliving #bondilifestyle #bondiicebergsclub #coastallife #coastalwalk #bondibreakfast
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In March, Bondi beach closed down after thousands of beachgoers ignored the advice from officials to avoid large gatherings and practice social distancing.
Australia has recorded around 6,700 cases and 85 deaths. But only 100 cases have appeared in the past week amid extensive testing.
Amid the easing of restrictions, the government has also urged citizens to download a tracing app. Already 2.4 million people had downloaded it since its release on Sunday.
State governments have set up coronavirus testing centres and are now encouraging people to undergo tests regardless of whether they have symptoms.
New South Wales (NSW) state, which is home to nearly half of Australia's 6,723 cases of COVID-19, said it would let up to two adults visit another person's home from Friday, relaxing a stay-at-home policy and ban on non-essential movement.