Newcastle set for COVID Safe Summer as City extends lifeguard patrols

25 Sep 2020

From Saturday City of Newcastle lifeguards will work a seven-day summer roster, with a Sunday service added for the first time to support a COVID Safe Summer. The service will work closely with surf lifesaving clubs to patrol Newcastle beaches on weekends.

Saturday marks the official beginning of the summer beach season in Newcastle, with the City gearing up to keep the community safe in and around the water as the community adapts to unique conditions due to COVID-19.

While lifeguards patrol year-round at Nobbys, Bar and Merewether beaches and Newcastle Ocean Baths, the annual 30-week seasonal patrols kick off at Dixon Park, Newcastle and Stockton beaches, as well as Merewether Ocean Baths.

With more than 1.2 million people visiting local beaches last year, City of Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said she was confident locals would continue to adhere to physical distancing measures when enjoying Newcastle’s iconic beaches and baths.

“Last beach season our Lifeguards did an amazing job keeping people safe in the water and taking the extra responsibility of encouraging social distancing when the pandemic related restrictions were announced in March,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Our incredible team of lifeguards and aquatics staff carry out their important service every year with great courage and skill, protecting and educating tourists and locals at our beaches, ocean baths and pools.

“While people’s beach experiences may look different this season, the usual beach rules apply including swimming between the flags and obeying the instructions of lifeguards which will include avoiding over-crowded areas.

“As a response to the pandemic, additional lifeguards will be provided as COVID Safe Marshals to patrol local beaches and baths on weekends and during school holidays to educate the community about requirements under the Public Health Order, monitor crowd sizes and promote water safety.

“Prominent signage will remind people about the need to maintain physical distance by keeping a towel length between them and other beachgoers, avoid large gatherings and to stay home if they are unwell.”

City of Newcastle is working in partnership with the Hunter Surf Life Saving Branch and Clubs to manage not only the unpredictable nature of the surf but also challenges associated with COVID-19.

“Our Surf Life Saving Clubs do a phenomenal job at protecting our community at the beach and we look forward to welcoming people back as the weather warms up,” Rhonda Scruton CEO Hunter Branch Surf Life Saving said.

“This season presents additional challenges, but through good preparation and adherence to our COVID Safe Plans, we look forward to protecting the community and ensuing people continue to enjoy themselves when at the beach.”

City of Newcastle remains in close contact with Lake Macquarie City Council to ensure there is a consistent approach to COVID and beach safety across the two coastal Local Government Areas.

“Both City of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie LGAs are fortunate to be home to amazing beaches and pools and we want people to continue to enjoy a day at the beach. We have worked collaboratively in preparation for this summer to ensure we have a consistent approach to beach safety locally,” Lake Macquarie Council Mayor Kay Fraser said.