…you will be!

STAFF members from the Bass Coast Shire Council have been driving around today posting “beach closed” signs at all the main beaches across the shire.

They’ve even headed up narrow lanes to fix signs to the entrances to remote beaches like those in the far reaches of Silverleaves on Phillip Island.

Their website also carries a big “beach closed” picture. The message is clear.

Except it’s not!

Those doing the right thing and staying away from the beach on a beautifully warm early autumn day might have been confused if they drove by their favourite beach later in the day and saw bodies in groups of two, three, four or more draped along the sand and going in for the occasional dip.

Officers of the shire told the Sentinel-Times, that’s alright as long as they aren’t congregating in groups, no mass gatherings. Small family groups and couples are OK.

“We’re just following the government’s rules.”

But surely, if everyone had the idea of visiting the beach to sunbake and swim in groups of two, three or more we’d soon have the “cheek-by-jowl” coverage at our most popular beaches that so enraged Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton during the week?

Bass Coast’s beaches were officially closed from 12 noon on Saturday, March 28.

This follows Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ strong message to the Victorian community yesterday that people who can stay home, must stay home.

“There is a need for the community to avoid congregating or gathering at Victorian beaches and foreshores, boardwalks, piers, jetties and adjacent park land,” he said.

Council CEO, Ms Ali Wastie said this difficult decision was taken following Directions of the State Chief Health Officer and Bass Coast Health regarding the risks of large numbers of people gathering at our beaches and not practicing social distancing rules.

“People will still be able to access the beaches for a surf, run or walking a dog, however the closure is to minimise the locations being used as a gathering place during the COVID-19 crisis. Swimming is allowed at this stage, as long as social distancing and mass gathering rules are obeyed,” Ms Wastie said.

Council’s skate parks and playgrounds have also been closed.

Victoria Police will enforce the government restrictions.

People are encouraged to contact the Victoria Police Assistance Line 131 444 to alert authorities of potential breaches of directions, including gatherings.