ALL Bass Coast and South Gippsland beaches will be totally closed to the public over the Easter break – with no access for anyone, to any beach, under any circumstance.
That includes exercising on the beach – running, surfing, walking and swimming.
Bass Coast Shire Council and Phillip Island Nature Parks announced the decision on Tuesday, April 7. South Gippsland also announced on Wednesday, April 8, that beaches in South Gippsland would be closed for all activity over the Easter period.
This follows strong advice from Bass Coast Health that with additional people in the community over Easter, the local health network would be unable to respond to the impacts of a COVID-19 outbreak in our community.
Wilsons Promontory National Park has also been closed.
The decision to close local beaches and ‘the Prom’ has been described as a “huge relief” for local residents.
The closure will impact every beach in the shire from 11.59pm on Thursday, April 9, until 11.59pm on Monday, April 13. During these times, there will be no access for anyone, to any beach, under any circumstance.
Bass Coast Shire Council CEO Ali Wastie said that Bass Coast does not have an intensive care facility, with Bass Coast Health only equipped to respond to local demand.
“On behalf of the local community – please stay home for Easter and only leave your primary place of residence for food shopping, medical reasons, exercise and work or education if you can’t do these from home,” Ms Wastie said.
“It was a difficult decision to make, but an essential one in order to support our health network and protect our community. Stay home. Protect the health system. Save lives.”
Thanks to Bass Coast’s incredible beaches and coastlines, the shire would normally welcome up to 70,000 visitors over the Easter period, Ms Wastie said.
“Our visitors and non-permanent residents make a significant contribution to our community and economy and we respect and value all those who call Bass Coast their second home or favourite place to visit,” Ms Wastie said.
“When all of this is over, we will welcome everyone back with open arms, but until then, we are asking you to please stay home.
“We feel for those who have been doing the right thing, but protecting our community is paramount.
“The message from all levels of government is clear. If you can stay home, you must. Putting additional strain on rural health services is unfair, when cities and large towns are much better placed to manage an outbreak,” Ms Wastie concluded.
Inverloch Councillor Les Larke is supportive of the decision.
Initially I was concerned that about alienating people by turning them away but we received a briefing from Bass Coast Health CEO Jan Child which makes you aware of the capacity, or lack of it especially for ICU beds, and you realise it’s the only course of action, at least for four days anyway,” Cr Larke says.
“Health concerns have to get the highest priority,” he said.
Signage will be in place informing people of beach closures.
People are encouraged to contact the Victoria Police Assistance Line 131 444 to alert authorities of potential breaches of directions, including gatherings.
South Gippsland beaches closed
South Gippsland Shire Council, in a post on Facebook on Wednesday, April 8, said: “Please be advised that beaches in South Gippsland are closed for all activity over the Easter period, effective immediately.
“Local police have been informed and support this position. They will be carrying out checks of beaches to ensure compliance. This action is in line with federal and state government directives to keep people safe.
“People are encouraged not to travel to South Gippsland this Easter.
“We hope to welcome visitors back at [a] later date but for now we ask people to follow government advice and please stay at home.”