Following discussions with the Minister for Health and Medical Research, Brad Hazzard, the Mayor of Waverley, Paula Masselos, today announced strict new ‘Swim & Go’ and ‘Surf & Go’ measures at Bondi and Bronte beaches and ‘Surf & Go’ at Tamarama Beach.

The measures will provide a safe way for local surfers and experienced swimmers to exercise safely in the water. The measures have a strong emphasis on social distancing.

As per the Mayoral Minute passed last evening, the Council expects to provide access to the water for the sole purpose of exercising for surfers and swimmers between the hours of 7am and 5pm on weekdays commencing Tuesday 28 April. The Council will review these measures on an ongoing basis, including whether to provide access on weekends.

Mayor Masselos stressed that this is not a reopening of Waverley’s beaches and that Waverley’s beaches remain closed to all land-based activities including social gatherings, sunbaking, walking and jogging.

The Council’s strict ‘Swim & Go’ and ‘Surf & Go’ measures have the support of Minister Hazzard and Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant.

“Minister Hazzard was very clear in our discussions that if Council was intending to give access to the ocean, then this approach was a good approach to managing water exercise at this time,” Mayor Masselos said.

“Access to the water will be via designated entry and exit points managed by Council Rangers and are designed only for surfers and experienced ocean swimmers.

“There will be no relaxing or gathering around on the sand. The sand remains strictly off-limits other than for access to the water for exercising. If social distancing rules can’t be followed, then this access to the water will be shut down.

“I also want to remind people that the NSW Public Health order to stay at home remains in effect. These measures are strictly for locals to exercise locally and if you are attending the beach to exercise, please do your exercise and leave.

“The timing of our measures coincides with the onset of cooler weather and the opportunity to monitor what is happening in other Council areas with regard to their beaches.”

Surfing will be permitted at Tamarama and Mackenzies Bay but the beach remains closed to swimmers and all land-based activity. As per Public Health Orders, all public ocean pools, including Bronte Pool, remain closed.

“Our Council recognises how important exercise is for health and wellbeing, and we’ve worked hard to come up with these strict measures as a way of helping people exercise safely in the water and manage strict social distancing,” Mayor Masselos said.

“We are counting on our surfers and swimmers to do the right thing and to follow our strict measures to ensure we can provide an avenue for these residents to exercise.

“If residents do not adhere to the conditions of these measures or follow the instructions of our Rangers or Lifeguards, then the Council will have no choice but to remove all access to the water.

“We will continue to carefully manage these ‘Swim & Go’ and ‘Surf & Go’ measures on an ongoing basis and will work with the Police to ensure that social distancing is enforced.

“And as the term ‘Swim & Go’ and ‘Surf & Go’ suggests, surfers and swimmers must exit the water as soon as they finish exercising and return home.

“This is consistent with our messaging around exercise, which is stay at home where possible, and if you must exercise outdoors, please observe all restrictions.

“Remember, these measures are not designed for people to have a dip or paddle or for children to play on the sand.

“Our area has recorded around 180 cases of COVID-19, and while this figure remains stable, we must remain vigilant.”

Council Rangers have the power under the Local Government Act to issue fines to people who access areas that are clearly marked with signs as closed, including at our beaches.

Lifeguards will continue to patrol Bondi, Bronte and Tamarama beaches between the hours of 7am and 5pm to provide water safety. The red and yellow flags will not be up as the beaches remained closed and people enter the water at their own risk.

“Surfers and swimmers will be responsible for their own safety when they enter the water,” Mayor Masselos said. “Our strict measures are not for paddlers and casual bathers.”