BASS Coast Shire Council and Phillip Island Nature Parks are closing all their beaches to gatherings from noon today (Saturday, March 28) until further notice.

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, the council 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 practising 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 were also closed yesterday.

“This has not been an easy decision as we know how important getting outside is for a break, especially when we have such a beautiful environment to enjoy.

“We have already seen people not obeying the directions and it has been incredibly disappointing and frustrating. We all have to act responsibly. People’s lives are at stake and everyone needs to play their part to keep each other safe during this crisis.

“We feel for those who have been doing the right thing, but protecting our community is paramount,” Ms Wastie concluded.

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.