Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach has reopened for surfers and swimmers five weeks after it was closed over the coronavirus pandemic.
Waverley Council reopened Bondi, Bronte and Tamarama beaches, with COVID-19 social distancing rules still in place.
The beaches will be open to the public between 7am and 5pm on weekdays, but will shut at the weekends.
People will only be able to take a dip in the water, with sunbathing, walking and jogging on the beach not allowed.
The beaches were closed as Australia’s coronavirus restrictions came into force last month and large crowds gathered at the popular destinations, breaking social distancing rules.
The move to ease restrictions comes as Health Minister Greg Hunt announced just one new case of community transmission of COVID-19 had been recorded in the country in the past 24 hours.
“We are winning but we have not won yet,” said Mr Hunt.
New South Wales (NSW), where nearly half of the country’s 6,700 cases have been recorded, is relaxing a stay-at-home policy and ban on non-essential movement from Friday.
Up to two adults will be allowed to visit another household for social or care reasons, and children will be able to join them.
But people have been urged to continue to socially distance, be extra careful when visiting those aged over 70, and to stay at home if they have symptoms.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned the number of infections in the state would inevitably rise as restrictions are eased.
“I anticipate that in May, it won’t just be a handful of new cases we get every day because when you’ve got this increase in activity, unfortunately you will see a rise in the number of cases,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“That’s why we took time in April whilst we had those restrictions to beef up health supplies, capacity in hospitals to deal with extra cases, but also to learn from the data we’ve had.
“That’s definitely the headspace we’re in – what can we lift? When is it a safe time to lift them? What can boost jobs? That’s a priority for us.”
Australia, which closed its external and internal borders, imposed an early shutdown of businesses and issued strict social distancing rules, has avoided the high numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths seen in some other countries.
State governments have set up coronavirus testing centres and want people to take tests regardless of whether they have symptoms.
The country has recorded 84 deaths associated with the virus.