Council and Surfing Victoria unite on ANZAC weekend message

Published on 22 April 2020

 Pete Murphy with signs for surfers

Surf Coast Shire Council Mayor, Cr Rose Hodge, and Surfing Victoria CEO Adam Robertson are urging people to adhere to social distancing rules this ANZAC weekend, a time traditionally to gather people together.

“All dawn service ceremonies across the Surf Coast Shire have been cancelled this year, including the iconic Point Danger event in Torquay, which, in previous years, has attracted crowds of up to 10,000 people,” says Cr Hodge. “We’re asking people to please stay away from these areas this weekend.”

All ANZAC Memorials in the shire will be temporarily closed from Friday afternoon until Saturday midday. This also includes the closure by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee of Anzac Drive at Point Danger in Torquay.

Instead, the Returned and Services League of Australia is asking people to #STANDTO and mark the occasion from their own driveways or balconies by lighting candles or torches and observing a minute’s silence at 6am. Some of the shire’s more musical residents are even planning to play the “Last post” from their homes.

Today, Surfing Victoria is also placing signs at Bells Beach, Winkipop, Jan Juc, Torquay, Point Impossible and 13th Beach to remind surfers to spread out over the ANZAC weekend.

It comes as statistical modelling reveals that if we hadn’t been so vigilant with social distancing, Victoria would now be facing 58,000 new COVID-19 cases each day.

“Surf Coast Shire residents and visitors should be very proud of what we have achieved so far and the low number of new cases in Victoria is a direct result of their social distancing efforts,” says Cr Hodge. “But, please don’t misunderstand how little it takes for the virus to spread and the curve to steepen again.”

Mr Robertson agrees, saying: “Surfers are traditionally happy-go-lucky, but now is not the time to be complacent or to lessen our efforts. We’re urging surfers to do the right thing not just to keep beaches open for the sport, but also because social distancing is working and we want to come out of this sooner rather than later.”

Surfing’s national body has also issued a directorate to surfers, with an eight-step advice list during COVID-19, including surfing only the surf break closest to your home, preparing by putting on your wetsuit and waxing your board before you leave home, not surfing if the spot is overcrowded, taking it in turns rather than paddling back to the peak after catching a wave and heading home to change out of your wetsuit.

People who are doing other outdoor exercising, such as trail running, kayaking, stand up paddle-boarding, walking and ocean swimming are also urged to adhere to strict social distancing restrictions during this time, including limiting the surfaces touched while outdoors and sticking close to home.

“More rangers will be on patrol this weekend, as well as Victoria Police,” says Cr Hodge. “Last weekend, there was a worrying slide backwards with public gatherings observed at local beaches and open spaces. This weekend we need to do better.”

To report a social distancing breach, please contact the Victoria Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or report online.

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