Coastal councils locking down for Easter
Though the date changes year to year, the Easter holiday is generally assumed to be the last warm weather holiday of the year. After that, the water temperatures drop, cooler weather kicks in, and surfers no longer have to make space for their fair weather friends.
So as a last ditch break for the coast, Easter is up there with Christmas in terms of crowds on the coast.
This year, however, the message from coastal councils is clear as a bell: stay away.
It's not a statement taken lightly by councils who welcome the influx of visitors and their money to tide over the quiet months to come. Yet two consecutive weekends where coastal councils around Australia have been overrun have forced their hands.
Every council on the eastern seaboard, from the Sunshine Coast to Yorke Peninsula, have either strongly warned visitors to stay away, or they've signalled legal action will be taken if people are caught away from their primary place of residence - which, it should be noted, doesn't include holiday houses.
The following are links to council media releases, beginning with Sunshine Coast Council and working clockwise. They are not final and may be updated through the day. If you have questions please check with your council or health.gov.au
As a rule, if you don't think you can do it, then don't do it.
Sunshine Coast Council beaches are open but hang under the threat of closure. “My message is simple – Stay Home,” Mayor Mark Jamieson said. "Tell your friends and families not to come to the Sunshine Coast this long weekend.
Mayor Jamieson said the Queensland Police Service would patrol beaches and anyone flouting the rules risked being fined. “Large numbers of people congregating could force more facilities to close,” he said.
Gold Coast City Council has closed a number of beaches, limited some to locals, and put road blocks in place at others. "I say to Logan and Brisbane people, we love you, but we don't want you visiting us right now," the Mayor Tom Tate said.
The one way border crossing had led Queensland surfers to travel to northern NSW without the possibility of reciprocation. Yesterday, NSW launched 'Operation Tortoise' and in the press conference they made special mention about license checks of cars in the Tweed and North Rivers Region. In this video, a message to Queensland surfers begins at the 2:00 minute mark. Fines and jail time are on the table.
All council areas from Tweed south to Bega will have council officers out, but they'll also fall under the remit of NSW Police - refer again to video above about movement outside of your local area.
Also worth noting, though not mentioned in that speech, is that NSW police will use license plate reognition technology to determine how far people are from their place of residence.
MidCoast Council has closed all beaches.
Central Coast Council has asked people to stay away and invoked the threat of $11,000 fine to people caught travelling there without reason.
Shoalhaven City Council beaches are open to locals but they've threatened to close them if guidelines aren't followed. Similar warning have been sounded at Bega Shire Council.
Across the border in Victoria, all Bass Coast Shire beaches are closed over Easter. Mornington Peninsula Shire beaches remain open but like some in northern NSW, hang under the threat of closure: “Our beaches will be monitored and if people gather or flout restrictions on beaches under our control then we will remove all public access to them, even for exercise”
Surf Coast Shire Council, arguably the area most at risk from travelling surfers, has issued a number of warnings, to date all of them advising travellers to heed government health warnings about unnecessary travel. Swellnet will keep an eye on any changes.
Over in SA, the City of Victor Harbor has dumbed the message way down: "The message cannot be clearer – please don’t visit us this Easter." On the other side of Adelaide, Yorke Peninsula Council have curtailed camping by tent or caravan with anyone wishing to do so having to apply for special exemptions - holidaying isn't one of them.
Swellnet takes the message from the good folk at Victor and implore everyone to stay at home this Easter - the message simply can't be any clearer.
Lastly, tensions are running very high around the coast, a return to 70s localism is being welcomed by some, but all we can say is try talking to visitors first. If they still don't listen then take a photo, let them see you do it, and email it to the police in your state. Leave the violence out of it.
Remember, the lockdown isn't forever, and the coming winter months will take the heat off the coast.