By Jill Gralow
SYDNEY (Reuters) – As the sun rose over Sydney’s beaches on Monday halfway into a two-week lockdown, a few surfers were spotted hitting the famous Bondi waves.
Residents are allowed outside for exercise and recreation. In the winter sunshine, joggers exercised on the boardwalk and others walked on the beach. Later in the day, more people were seen at Coogee Beach, singly or in small groups.
Sydney went into lockdown on June 26 as authorities in New South Wales (NSW) state tried to contain a fast-spreading outbreak of the highly infectious Delta coronavirus variant in Australia’s largest city.
More than a million people in downtown Sydney and the city’s eastern suburbs were already under lockdown because of the outbreak, but health authorities said they needed to expand restrictions after more COVID-19 cases were recorded.
On Monday, NSW said the next two days would be “absolutely critical” in deciding whether the Sydney lockdown, set to end on July 9, would be extended amid rising Delta variant cases. More than 5 million Sydney residents are under strict stay-at-home orders.
Total infections in the latest outbreak have topped 300. NSW reported 35 locally acquired cases on Monday, matching the biggest daily rise in infections so far this year, recorded two days ago.
Less than 10% of Australia’s adult population of just over 20.6 million have been fully vaccinated, while more than 30% have had received at least their first dose.
(Reporting by Jill Gralow; Writing by Karishma Singh; Editing by Gerry Doyle)