Only a few weeks ago, Australians were condemned worldwide for flocking to the iconic Bondi Beach when social-distancing measures to combat coronavirus were in place.
Bondi and its neighbouring beaches were promptly closed, but now Waverley Council has resolved to relax some restrictions.
From Tuesday, swimmers and surfers will be allowed back at Bondi, Bronte and Tamarama beaches, but sunbathing, exercising and hanging out on the sand will remain banned to stop people congregating.
You’ll only be allowed in the water on weekdays between 7am and 5pm.
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Tamarama will only be open for surfers, but swimming and surfing are both allowed at Bondi and Bronte.
People after a “casual paddle” are discouraged from visiting the beaches, which are in the middle of a coronavirus hotspot.
Waverley mayor Paula Masselos emphatically denied on Saturday that the beaches would reopen any time soon.
“It has been reported in the media that council is working on a proposal to reopen its beaches. I strongly reiterate that this is not the case,” Ms Masselos said in a message on the council’s website.
She noted the council was “looking at ways to provide managed access to the water for the sole purpose of ocean swimming and surfing for exercise”.
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It appears that beachgoers will only be allowed on the sand to get in and out of the surf.
The vote to let people back in the water was passed at a council meeting last night, with only one councillor opposed.
The number of people in the water will be monitored and the beaches will be shut if rules are broken.
Rule-breaking was popular the day after the beach was closed.
Beachgoers are defying lifesavers and have been seen stepping through barriers on Bondi Beach, ignoring the coronavirus closure. pic.twitter.com/QuBFvr3vwm
— news.com.au (@newscomauHQ) March 21, 2020
Ms Masselos is expected to provide further detail about the reopening of water access this afternoon.
Nearby Randwick City Council reopened its beaches on Monday for those exercising on the sand or in the water, provided they obey social distancing measures.
It comes after beaches in the US state of Florida were reopened, attracting huge crowds and leading to the coining of the derogatory hashtag #FloridaMorons on social media earlier this week.