Surfers walk as Bondi Beach reopens to surfers and swimmers after it was closed to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), with strict social distancing measures remaining in place, in Sydney, Australia, April 28, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
SYDNEY – Australia’s most populous state said, on Tuesday, it will relax some restrictions on movement, as beaches reopened amid hopes a policy of widespread medical testing will help sustain a decline in new cases of the coronavirus.
Bondi Beach and two neighboring beaches in Sydney were reopened to local residents on Tuesday after being closed a month ago due to large crowds breaking social distancing rules.
Australia recorded just one new case of COVID-19 from an unknown source in the past 24 hours, suggesting community transmission had almost stopped, Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
“We are winning, but we have not won yet,” he said.
New South Wales (NSW) state, which is home to nearly half of Australia’s roughly 6,700 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.
“For many people, they’ve been cooped up in their homes for a number of weeks, and with the exception of exercising, medical needs or buying what they need to or going to work, many people have been isolated in their homes,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
“Two adults will be able to go and visit anybody else in their home, based on care, based on reducing socialization and everybody’s mental health.”
Children were allowed to accompany adults on house visits, Berejiklian added.
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 other countries.
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.
The country recorded five new coronavirus fatalities on Tuesday after more residents from an aged care facility in the west of Sydney died from the virus.
There have now been 11 coronavirus deaths at the Anglicare Newmarch House, taking the national death toll to 88.
State governments have set up coronavirus testing centers and want people to undergo tests regardless of whether they have symptoms.