Coronavirus: Australia and New Zealand begin to ease lockdown restrictions

  • Video report by ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine

Australia and New Zealand are beginning to ease their lockdown restrictions after a reduction in the number of coronavirus cases.

Surfers hit the waves at Australia's famous Bondi Beach and at Summer Beach in New Zealand, although social distancing measures remain in place.

Both countries entered a hard lockdown early to limit the spread of the disease.

Surfers enjoy a sunrise surf as level four restrictions are eased in Christchurch, New Zealand. Credit: AP

New Zealand reported just five new coronavirus cases on Monday, and prime minister Jacinda Ardern said there has not been widespread community transmission of the virus.

The Pacific nation has now reduced its Covid-19 alert from level 4, the highest level of restrictions.

  • Jemma Geoghegan, a scientist advising New Zealand's government, explains the lifting of lockdown restrictions

Ms Ardern said: "We must make sure that we do not let the virus run away on us again and cause a new wave of cases and deaths.

"To succeed, we must hunt down the last few cases of the virus. This is like looking for a needle in a haystack and we need your help to finish the job we have started."

Some non-essenial businesses, including food takeaways and educations services are allowed to reopen but people are still expected to stay home.

Surfers begin returning to Bondi beach in Australia. Credit: AP

New Zealand has just 1,472 confirmed coronavirus cases and 19 deaths.

Australia recorded just 12 new cases on Monday, bringing the total to 6,725 and 84 deaths.

More than 2.4 million Australians have downloaded a virus tracker app which will alert people if they have come in contact with someone who may have coronavirus.

A sign tells surfers to leave once they have finished surfing at Bondi Beach in Sydney. Credit: AP

The smartphone app uses a Bluetooth wireless signal to exchange a "digital handshake" with another user when they come within 1.5 metres. The app then logs this contact and encrypts it.

Users will be notified if they have had more than 15 minutes of close contact with another user who tests positive.

The UK government is looking to rollout a similar version of the app. However the WHO has warned the app might not be an effective way of containing the virus as there is no evidence to suggest people cannot be re-infected with the disease after recovering from it.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know