Early end to patrols, but beaches remain open
Surf Life Saving Central Coast and Central Coast Council have decided to call an early end to beach patrols, effective immediately.
However, beaches on the Peninsula will remain open.
Council chief executive Mr Gary Murphy said the decision responded to Federal and State Government calls to do more to ensure compliance with the regulations around physical distancing and banning of outdoor gatherings of 500 or more people.
"Unfortunately, the swim between the flags message is encouraging people to congregate in close proximity," Mr Murphy said.
"Our job right now is ensuring we play our part in managing as best we can the spread of Coronavirus and protecting the health and wellbeing of our staff and community.
"Lifeguards and volunteer lifesavers' job is not crowd control and social group management.
"Their important roles of keeping children, families and all beachgoers safe at the patrolled beach areas is being compromised during these unprecedented times," he said.
Surf Life Saving Central Coast chief executive Mr Jon Harkness added that an early end to the usual beach patrol season did not mean the end of beach safety education or the responsibility of everyone to be surf smart.
"We know that this decision may seem counter-intuitive as we approach the Easter long weekend break and potentially longer school holiday period, but these are not ordinary times and they require us to take all the precautions we can to keep our staff and the general public safe.
"We are asking everyone to be sensible and follow the regulations about public gatherings and physical distancing.
"We will be back in late September this year to raise the red and yellow flags for a new beach patrol season," said Mr Harkness.
However, Killcare Surf Club president Mr Craig Sheppard said his members were hopeful they would still have a presence at the beach.
"We'll be on the PA with our usual focus on preventative measures and beg you to comply with any directions given by the lifesavers.
"This will also apply to social distancing.
"It sounds harsh, but the team are under instructions that should they have large groups of people not complying with what needs to be done, they are to call for police backup."
Press release, 25 Mar 2020
Gary Murphy, Central Coast Council
Social media, 25 Mar 2020
Craig Sheppard, Killcare SLSC