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SOUTH WEST LOCALS MEET WITH SHIRE TO KEEP BEACHES OPEN IN REGION. B>
SOUTH WEST LOCALS MEET WITH SHIRE TO KEEP BEACHES OPEN IN REGION.
Key representatives of local surfing organisations, coastal businesses and swimming networks met with Shire President Ian Earl last night. They discussed concerns with last weekend\u2019s beach crowding issue and agreed on community measures that could be adopted to enable beaches to safely remain open for use in the current COVID19 environment.
Several problems were highlighted that contributed to crowds, including an unusually high and very recent influx of travelling backpackers. Cr Earl commented that \u201cRangers have been working with Police to tell the free campers to move on. Advice has been that they need to look to go home while they still can. We have also been sending them to places where they can camp properly and we\u2019ll continue to work on that.\u201d
An influx of Perth visitors was also cited for particularly large weekend crowds, however it was felt that the regional border closures would minimise this issue in the future.
At a local level, the representatives were incredibly keen to do what they could to strongly encourage their members and networks to strictly abide by Shire guidelines. The very real risk of beach closures was enough to incite some solid consensus and commitment.
Dave Macaulay, current Masters Surfing World Champion and father of WSL competitor Bronte, commented that \u201cthe thought of not being able to go surfing was scary.\u201d
Charlie O\u2019Beirne, head of Swimming Women who has around 500 members, said \u201cthere\u2019s lot of swimmers who are older, but that access to movement in the ocean is absolutely critical to their mental and physical health.\u201d
The groups agreed to strongly communicate and follow the Shire guidelines, including:
\u2022 Don\u2019t congregate in the carpark or on the beach.
\u2022 Avoid crowded breaks and car parks.
\u2022 Spread out in the line up
\u2022 Make it snappy. Surf/Swim then leave.
\u2022 Obey social distancing rules.
Noting that Sydney had only shut Manly and Bondi beaches, Margaret River Boardriders President Jerome Forrest commented \u201cThat\u2019s where us locals have to lead the way and show people what to do. We just need to get in and get out of there, there\u2019s no hanging around the beaches.\u201d
The groups are firmly communicating these guidelines to their networks, and the Shire is posting signs to remind beach goers of these guidelines today.
Jane Seman, President of Cowaramup Bay Boardriders, commented that \u201cBeach closures would be absolutely devasting for the local community. So many people rely on it for their physical health and mental wellbeing, so it\u2019s even more important in times when our health needs to be at its peak.\u201d
\u201cWhether we\u2019re visitors or local residents, let\u2019s all do the right thing and help to keep our beaches open.\u201d