Lifeguards primed for socially distanced beach season
Published on 24 September 2020
Lake Mac’s beach season will kick off this weekend, with measures in place to ensure safe and socially distanced fun in the sun.
Lake Macquarie City Council lifeguards will patrol Redhead, Blacksmiths, Caves and Catherine Hill Bay Beaches daily from Saturday 26 September to 25 April next year.
Beach Team Leader Danny Napper said lifeguards would encourage beachgoers to remain one towel-length apart as part of the COVID-19-related directions set out by the NSW Government.
“We’ll be encouraging people to use the space we’ve got to spread out,” he said.
“We still want everyone to swim between the flags, but if they set up on the beach outside this area it means we won’t have so many people concentrated in one area.”
The ‘one person per four square metres’ rule means all four patrolled Lake Mac beaches can have up to 5000 people at any one time – more than the peak recorded during busy summer days in past years.
Manager Leisure Services Brad Sutton said it was unlikely any of the patrolled beaches would need to limit the number of people coming onto the sand even in peak periods, provided visitors adhered to social distancing.
“However, we’ll be assessing crowd numbers routinely and regularly, particularly on busy days, as well as monitoring social distancing. Our lifeguards will provide friendly reminders as necessary,” he said.
“If we start to approach that 5000 threshold due to increased visitation, we’ll provide messaging via social media and other channels to help ensure we’re not compromising public safety.”
“The community really supported and responded to the changes we had to put in place in March, and we can all continue together to ensure we have a safe and active summer.”
For the first time, lifeguards will be able to provide direct, live updates on Council’s dedicated website pages for each beach, providing information like beach open/closed notifications, water temperature, presence of stingers, or rip/current warnings.
“This gives us another tool to keep the community informed and aware of what’s happening along our coast, we will also be sharing this with Local Area Police Command on a daily basis” Mr Sutton said.
“Lake Macquarie City Council is working in partnership with Hunter Surf Life Saving Branch and local surf clubs at Redhead, Swansea-Belmont, Caves Beach and Catherine Hill Bay, to manage not only the unpredictable nature of the surf but also challenges associated with COVID-19.”
“Whether it’s lifeguards or the wider community, we are all part of the same team when it comes to being COVID-safe.”
Lake Macquarie Mayor Cr Kay Fraser said the City’s lifeguards did a “tremendous” job keeping beachgoers safe, and educating the community about beach safety.
“COVID-19 will present fresh challenges for our lifeguard team,” Cr Fraser said.
“But I am confident they will tackle them with the same enthusiasm and skill that has made our lifeguards some of the best in the business.”
Lake Macquarie City Council will remain in close contact with City of Newcastle to ensure there is a consistent approach to COVID-19 and beach safety across the two local government areas.
Go to lakemac.com.au/patrolled-beachesfor up-to-date information about each Lake Mac beach.