Surf lifesavers were called out to a swimmer in trouble on a remote stretch of the Raglan coast just hours before the country moved to the Level 4 COVID-19 lockdown.
In response, lifesaving officials have re-emphasised their advice to kiwis to stay out of the water while the COVID-19 emergency continues.
All surf lifesaving patrols in New Zealand have been discontinued till further notice as part of the COVID-19 response moving to Level 4 – a move SLSNR Chief Executive Matt Williams says is a “no-brainer.” Williams says surf lifesaving clubs will clearly not be able to provide lifeguards under the self-isolation requirements, “but equally, we expect to see very few people at the beaches, apart from residents who we are advising to stay on land and not go for a swim or take part in any other water-based activities.”
Williams says surf lifesaving emergency callout squads will remain on readiness should an on-water incident occur. “But they will be limited to when they are officially tasked by the Police, and surf lifesaving response times will not be as rapid as in normal times. It’s very important for the public to understand that if they do enter the water and get into trouble during this Level 4 period, it will be harder for lifeguards to respond quickly enough to save their life.
“So like other emergency authorities we urging all people to stay out of the water.”
Williams hopes the recent experience in Australia where crowds at Bondi beach were cleared by authorities and beaches were closed to the public would not be replicated in New Zealand to any extent. “But that requires the public to act sensibly and in the best interest of their communities over the next few weeks while we are at Level 4.”
He advised members of the public to check on the Safeswim website (www.safeswim.org.nz) for updates on any change to beach availability.