A Socially Distanced Summer
The final weekend prior to the arrival of spring was forecast to deliver a much-needed reprieve from a challenging winter, and the police were out in force, ensuring social distancing regulations were adhered to in the unseasonably warm weather.
With no end to social distancing measures in sight, Waverley, Randwick, and Woollahra Councils have decided to get on the front foot and devise plans to ensure COVID safety at our beaches this summer.
During the initial lockdown, crowds at beaches were considered outdoor gatherings and were limited to 500 people, or simply banned altogether. Current public health orders put in place by the New South Wales government limit outdoor gatherings to 20 people, but beaches pose a somewhat unique problem with a large number of people from different gatherings often situated close to one another.
Matt du Plessis, Manager of Lifeguard Services and Beach Safety at Waverley Council, said Council would be managing numbers at beaches under the four square metre rule in line with public health orders.
“If the beaches or the coastal walk look busy, please consider visiting another time or use your time to visit our wonderful local businesses,” he said.
Additional rangers will be patrolling Waverley beaches and the Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk throughout the summer months to ensure social distancing is maintained.
As has become standard in this pandemic, there is the potential for these guidelines to change at any time, so councils are working closely with state officials to maintain an up-to-date set of guidelines.
“Waverley Council is currently operating under the relevant public health orders, and our Beach Management Plan is under constant review,” Mayor Masselos told The Beast.
“We are also continuing to work very closely with NSW Health and the police, other agencies, as well as neighbouring councils on our beach management measures.”
Neighbouring Randwick City is also trying to keep its guidelines flexible as the situation is likely to change at any moment.
“Any decisions we make with regards to our approach to beaches in the coming months will be informed by the NSW Government public health orders at the time,” a Randwick Council spokesperson said.
“In the meantime, we’re encouraging people to practise good hand hygiene and social distancing.”
Fortunately, all of our local councils are planning on keeping their beaches open over summer. Residents and visitors will have plenty of options and can maintain social distancing by utilising less populated beaches like Yarra Bay in Randwick City and Milk Beach in Woollahra.
During the first wave back in March, breaches of social distancing, particularly at Bondi Beach, led to the Eastern Suburbs beaches being closed off to the public. Now, despite an air of optimism as we head into summer, the councils have not overlooked the option of closing beaches if social distancing cannot be maintained.
A spokesperson from Woollahra Council noted that social distancing is crucial to keeping beaches open over the busy summer period.
“At this stage, our beach management position is to keep the harbour foreshore beaches in Woollahra open, while encouraging social distancing,” the spokesperson said.
“We will monitor compliance and may close beaches if breaches occur.”
Let’s enjoy the beach but try and keep a towel length apart from other people and stick to the four square metre rule. If we can achieve that, it will be a great summer. We certainly don’t want the fences back up.