Surfing allowed for now

DESPITE the biggest increase in new COVID-19 cases in Victoria in the past day, up 111 to 685, the Premier Daniel Andrews has this morning ruled out moving to Stage 3 restrictions.

But he has made a plea specifically about beaches, including those on Phillip Island.

Speaking at a morning media conference with the Police Minister Lisa Neville, he said people should stay home and not go to the beach for the day.

In answer to a question from the media, he said people could exercise with a walk on the beach, as long as they strictly observed the “social distancing” rules but he also stressed that “if people can stay home, they should stay home”.

“You can visit the beach but don’t stay at the beach,” Mr Andrews said.

Surfing and fishing off the beach also appear to contravene the rules that “if you can stay home you must stay home” but this week, the Bass Coast Shire Council said surfing at local beaches was allowed.

They’ve put surfing in the exercise category.

But a spokesman for the shire has sought to clarify the situation.

He said surfers must not congregate as they usually do. Must keep their “social distance” and he stressed, “don’t pick up your mates to go surfing with you – go on your own or they will close it down!”

Going out to exercise (including surfing – for now), to get food and to perform essential work outside the home are all allowed but spending the day at the beach is not allowed.

The government is basically locking us up at home – voluntarily, for now.

And when announcing that police have new powers to fine people flouting the laws, Minister Neville included Phillip Island beaches as areas that police will be looking at for compliance.

But Mr Andrews asked for cooperation.

“I can make a lot of rules but unless people follow them and do the right thing  there’s not much point.

“We are in this together. It’s not just yourself that you are hurting, you are hurting others. And young people need to get the message that they aren’t just a risk to the elderly but also to their parents because people in their 40s and 50s are also dying.

“I’m upset that people can’t go out and enjoy a lovely day at the beach and I thank people for the wonderful cooperation they are showing in trying to flatten the curve but the reality is that if we don’t this, people will die.”

He said the state was working to increase the number of ICU beds to 5000 but he said if the number of people needing intensive care increased to 10,000, people would die.

He also answered questions about the Colorado Cluster.

“By the time people started to the time they were having cheese, they all had it. From entree to coffee, the whole dinner party had it and that should be an example to us all about how fast this virus spreads.

“You can’t be going to dinner parties, you can’t have your mates over for drinks, you can’t spend the day at the beach. The message is if you can stay home you must stay home and if you don’t we will have a tragedy in this state the likes of which we have never seen.”

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