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Bondi waters busy as iconic beach reopens

Hundreds of surfers have returned to the water at Bondi for the first time since the beach was closed five weeks ago due to COVID-19 restrictions.

People are now permitted to swim or surf at Bondi and Bronte, and surf only at Tamarama, between 7am and 5pm on weekdays.

Access is via designated entry and exit points and the sand remains out of bounds for sunbathers.

Waverley Council mayor Paula Masselos says Bondi was busier than usual at 7am on Tuesday but people did the right thing.

“So far I’ve been really delighted at how the corridors are working,” Ms Masselos told AAP at the beach.

Local Scott Heappey said there were lots of surfers in the water at Bondi but they were all observing social distancing.

“There’s plenty of people but everyone’s staying nice and spread out,” Mr Heappey told AAP.

“I come down here three times a day. That’s my exercise and that’s what I do.”

Local women Vicki Shiels and Kay Smiles were delighted to be swimming again – having done so in the area for more than 50 years.

“We’ve lived here most of our lives and go swimming nearly every day. To not have that available was really awful, ” Ms Shiels told AAP.

Bondi resident Tom Sheer said it was liberating to be out of his apartment and surfing once again.

He just hopes people continue to abide by the rules.

“It’s exciting to be back in the water and I guess we’ll wait and see if people take the piss,” Mr Sheer told AAP.

“I already saw someone going through the south fence as opposed to this beautiful entry and exit system they’ve created, so let’s see how it goes.”

Another local Matt Rhodes says since Bondi Beach closed on March 21 he’s noticed surfers crowding other Sydney beaches.

He argues that having more open water means people can be better spaced apart.

“Closing the eastern suburbs beaches led everybody to go to the northern beaches – it had the effect of just crowding the beaches up there,” Mr Rhodes told AAP.

“I went to Manly a few times and noticed that it was really, really busy, like busier than it would be normally prior to this.”

Waverley Council has stressed the sand remains closed given the area has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Australia.

The mayor has said the “swim and go” and “surf and go” measures are strictly for Waverley residents and people shouldn’t drive to the beaches from further afield.

All of neighbouring Randwick City Council’s beaches – including Clovelly, Coogee and Maroubra – also reopened on Tuesday without any time restrictions.

Dee Why, Freshwater and Manly are the only northern beaches that remain closed in Sydney’s north.

Originally published as Bondi waters busy as iconic beach reopens

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