More Sydney beaches closed
Though lifesaver patrols in NSW ceased over the weekend, councils have begun patrolling their beaches in a different way.
Yesterday, a number of Sydney's Northern Beaches were closed when the visitor number "exceeded stipulated limits", according to Northern Beaches Council. Shelly Beach, Manly, Queenscliff, Freshwater, Curl Curl, Warriewood, Mona Vale, and North Palm Beach were all shut to the public.
This follows the closure of all Eastern Suburb beaches the weekend before. However, unlike the beaches in Sydney's east, which all remain closed, the closures in the north are temporary. Each of them re-opened today.
Surfers find themselves in a tough predicamant. To date, the closure of beaches has largely been based upon how many people are gathered on the sand or adjacents parks, yet closure is total: no-one allowed on the sand, no-one allowed in the water either.
This is causing bottlenecks at surrounding areas, particularly the far Northern Beaches of Sydney and those of the Illawarra south of Sydney. If you're a surfer and your local beach is closed, how far is too far to travel for exercise? There's no mention of distance in the government-issued guidelines, though it should be noted a number of people have already been fined for not having a good reason for driving.
Wollongong City Council has rangers patrolling all their beaches reminding people of the exercise guidelines - no loitering, no sunbaking, no gatherings of three or more - but also counting the number of people on any one beach. A spokesperson for Wollongong City Council told Swellnet they were working off a maximum of 500 people for any beach. That is, the sum of all people in the water, on the sand, and in adjacent parks and carparks.
The figure is loose, some beaches are larger than others, however the take home message is clear: the council is watching the beaches closely, and it's safe to assume all coastal councils are doing the same.
With a large number of people out of work and the Easter break approaching the problem is sure to be repeated this weekend.
Meanwhile, across the ditch, New Zealand is in Stage 4 lockdown which means no outside exercise, including surfing, with no exceptions. The New Zealand government has drafted new laws to punish offenders. Yesterday, six people were caught surfing at Piha Beach, west of Auckland, all were caught by police and let off with a warning.