20/04/2020 8:50 AM AEST | Updated 20/04/2020 1:00 PM AEST

Coronavirus In Australia: Sydney Beaches Reopen, Despite Health Warnings

Coogee, Maroubra and Clovelly opened at 8am Monday for exercise purposes only.

SAEED KHAN via Getty Images
An empty Coogee beach is seen during a lock down in Sydney on April 16, 2020. - All beaches remained closed as Australia brushed aside calls for an easing of tough restrictions on travel and public gatherings despite their success in curbing the spread of COVID-19. 

See the latest stories on the coronavirus outbreak.  

Australia has officially managed to get its coronavirus epidemic under control before it strained its public health system, reporting 53 new cases on Sunday. Those cases took the total to 6,586, according to the health ministry data.

There have been 71 deaths in Australia. The rate of increase in new cases has been below 1% for seven consecutive days - much lower than in many other countries.

There are more than 2.1 million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, and more than 146,000 people have died from it

Here’s what is happening in Australia today: 

1. Sydney Beaches Reopen, Despite Health Warnings

A council in Sydney’s east reopened its famous beaches on Monday, despite authorities warning the area is still a coronavirus hotspot.  

Randwick City Council announced on Sunday it would open beaches including Coogee, Maroubra and Clovelly for exercise purposes only.

Mayor Danny Said explained that keeping the beaches open would depend on attendance numbers and that restrictions could return if people don’t cooperate.  

Sitting, sun-baking and congregating in groups is still not allowed. 

“We appreciate that with the current restrictions in place people are increasingly looking for access to more open spaces including water for their physical and mental well-being,” he said in a Facebook video post. 

Randwick has the 10th-highest rate of COVID-19 in NSW, according to numbers reported by the ABC. 

NSW Health said on Monday Randwick, Waverley and Woollahra, all in Sydney’s east, are focus areas for testing. 

Other suburbs include Blacktown, Canada Bay, Cumberland, Goulburn, Mulawarie, the inner west, Liverpool, Parramatta, Penrith, and Ryde. 

“Anyone in those areas that have symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose should present for testing,” NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant told reporters on Monday. 

“We are trying to have high testing rates in those areas to again assure us that we are not missing more widespread community transmission.” 

Only six new cases of coronavirus have been recorded in NSW in the last 24 hours. 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian urged the public to be considerate.

“If you do the right things, they can stay open,” she said in her morning briefing on Monday. 

“It’s when people don’t do the right thing that the beach will close down. We want everybody to enjoy our natural beauty, especially now.  It’s great for mental health to get out. I’m encouraged to see families and individuals getting out there and exercising and enjoying the good weather. We want to see that continue.” 

2. Australia Demands Coronavirus Enquiry, Adding To Pressure On China

Australia has added to growing pressure on China over its handling of the coronavirus, questioning its transparency and demanding an international investigation into the origins of the virus and how it spread.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said her concern about China’s transparency was at a “a very high point”.

“The issues around the coronavirus are issues for independent review, and I think that it is important that we do that,” she told the ABC on Sunday. 

“In fact, Australia will absolutely insist on that.”

Australia’s call for an investigation comes as US President Donald Trump has been stepping up his criticism of China.

3. 3.5 Million Aussies To Be Unemployed

There could be 3.5 million Australians left without a job because of coronavirus, according to analysis into the economic fallout. 

The Grattan Institute released data showing up to 26% of workers could lose their jobs. 

Federal Treasury forecast unemployment will rise to 10% in the June quarter. 

Researcher Brendan Coates told the ABC lower-income workers are twice as likely to be affected by the crisis as higher-income workers.  

“(That’s) because they tend to work in the kinds of industries that require close physical contact and therefore they’re likely to be out of work at the moment,” he said.

4. Encouraging Numbers No Excuse To Relax Rules Says Vic Premier

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews has said strict social distancing measures cannot be relaxed despite “encouraging” numbers coming through.

“These numbers are not an invitation for us to roll back all of the rules. They are simply a validation that this strategy is working,” he said at a press conference on Monday morning. 

Andrews said loosening the restrictions puts Victoria at risk of ending up like other cities in the world where the Covid-19 situation has actually worsened.

“So many countries around the world had very similar rules in place to what we have. Then they relaxed the rules. They have seen the virus get away from them. Now they are in much harder lockdowns than we are right now,” he said.

As of Monday morning the state had 1,328 confirmed cases with 28 people in hospital and 11 in intensive care units. 

5. Queensland Has No New Cases

Queensland recorded no new cases over the past 24 hours as of Monday morning, the first time since March 9. 

“Today I’m very pleased to report that we have zero cases. Zero cases. This is an absolutely tremendous effort,” said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

“If we can keep this up over the coming weeks, I’m sure that that’s going to mean that we will be able to make some changes and ease some of those restrictions on the population.

“So thank you, Queensland, for the enormous effort that you are doing. This is tremendous news, but we want to see this over a period of weeks.”