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This sign was erected at Angourie Point by people unknown – the message is clear, but has it been heeded? Image: Geoff Helisma

Going for a surf is exercising

If there’s one thing for certain, going for a surf during enforcement of the COVID-19 public health orders can be a vexed situation: Can I do it legally? Where can I do it? Will I get fined for doing it?

Surfing is rated as exercising and therefore okay, with a few things to be aware of.

On Wednesday April 17, NSW Police Force posted on its Facebook Page:

“Q: Can I go to the beach?
“A: Firstly, please check with your council if your local beach is open. If it’s closed, don’t go.

“If your local beach is open, it doesn’t mean you can go down for a tanning session.

“You must ONLY be at the beach for essential exercise. DO NOT HANG AROUND.

“If you are there for essential exercise, please make sure you abide by restrictions surrounding social distancing and gatherings.

“We know it’s difficult, especially when the weather is nice, but if we all work together we can help stop the spread.”

Surfing NSW has also offered its advice on the issue, emphasising that it is “imperative to continue observing federal, state and local authorities and adhere to beach closures”:

Surfing is fun, and a great way to get your daily exercise … it’s also non-contact and easily done by yourself whilst following the physical distancing rules, if we all adjust a few things together.

EIGHT STEP SURFING ADVICE

  1. Surf the spot closest to your home ONLY.
  2. Wax up and prepare at home. Put on your wetsuit, boardies and other gear at home before driving to the beach.
  3. Follow physical distancing at all times coming and going to the beach. For example, if you have a narrow path to the beach wait an extra minute for it to clear before you walk down.
  4. Have a surf and leave immediately, don’t chat with mates in the car park. Call them on your phone.
  5. If the surfing spot is overcrowded – don’t go out
  6. Don’t paddle next to someone like you would normally. Give them more space.
  7. CRITICAL CHANGE – take it in turns. Do not paddle back over to the peak after catching a wave. Wait your turn patiently on the shoulder.
  8. Don’t change in the parking lot. Wrap your towel around yourself & go home.
    SPECIAL NOTE: Some beach closures have been a direct result of the public not making an effort to follow social distancing rules. Not all beaches are equal, as it relates to observing social distancing rules and regulations.

A local council’s decision to close a beach is made up of multiple factors outside of ‘surfing as exercise’. These decisions need to be respected by the surfing community.

For more information on what is or isn’t allowed, go here and here.

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