With the latest bunch of social distancing measures more or less putting NSW, VIC and QLD in lockdown, there’s a tonne of questions being asked about what exactly these new rules mean.
Am I still allowed to get pitted?
Can I still catch some fish for dinner?
What if I forget how it feels to have sand between my toes?
In NSW, exercise has been named as one of 16 reasonable excuses for leaving your home. In Victoria, exercise is one of just four reasons to leave. But with different areas closing national parks and beaches, what counts as exercise is becoming trickier to put together than a 1000 piece jigsaw after two weeks of iso.
Skate parks, playgrounds and public pools have closed this week, and many beaches have seen their official beach patrol season end early. So what exactly is permitted within each state?
We tried to clarify as much as possible, but there are still plenty of grey areas.
It’s important to note that even if an activity is permitted, strict social distancing measures apply at all times – remain 1.5m apart from others and only meet with one other person at a time (unless you live with them).
Activities that are still permitted should only be done within your local area. Do not drive out of your way to go to the beach or for a bushwalk, especially over the Easter long weekend.
Going for a bushwalk is allowed in NSW as long as it’s within your local area. People should not be driving out of their town or suburb to go for a bushwalk. Be aware of walking along narrow tracks that force you to become close to other people. In NSW national parks, visitor centres, historic centres and areas with high visitation have been closed. See the full list of alerts for specific places.
Update: Popular areas such as Wilsons Prom, Baw Baw National Park and Walhalla Historic Centre are closed for the Easter long weekend to ensure holidaymakers from Melbourne don’t visit.
Whether bushwalks are allowed in Victoria is still pretty unclear. By the sound of things, it’s up to the discretion of individual police officers as to whether a bushwalk is counted as exercise. It’s probably not worth it, but if you do decide to go for a bushwalk, keep it local and keep your distance.
Update: All day-use areas and barbeque facilities have been closed, as well as Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service visitor centres. Here’s the full list of closures.
Some trails, tracks are still open in Queensland and local bushwalks are permitted as exercise.
If you’re fishing locally i.e you don’t have to drive to get there, recreational fishing is permitted.
Unless it’s your job, fishing is not permitted in Victoria.
Fishing and boating for leisure are not permitted. However it’s ok to use your boat if you need it as transport for an essential purpose e.g getting to work. Fishing is also ok if you’re catching fish for your family for dinner.
Surfing and Beach Swimming
Update: Some beaches in Sydney’s northern suburbs have also been closed, including Manly, Freshwater and Palm Beach.
Walking and running on the beach, as well as swimming and surfing count as exercise, so are permitted. Sunbathing and playing obnoxiously loud hip hop music is not.
Many beaches in Sydney’s eastern have closed, without exemption, meaning even the above activities are not allowed.
Surf Life Saving NSW has ended its patrol season early and removed the flags from all NSW beaches to discourage people from gathering. They will continue to provide adequate emergency rescue through emergency club call out teams and drone surveillance.
However, some local areas have enforced tighter restrictions. Manning Point on the mid-coast for example, has completely closed all of its beaches until the end of school holidays. This includes walking, swimming etc. Please check your local council announcements for what is appropriate in your local area.
When it comes to surfing, be smart – if there are already a heap of people in the lineup, don’t paddle out. Find a quieter break or come back another time.
The NSW Department of Health website also outlines that swimming in ocean pools and baths is still permitted but advises swimmers to limit the time spent around the pool and to visit when pools are less busy.
Update: The Easter long weekend will bring tighter restrictions to Victoria. Many councils are completely closing their beaches over the long weekend to ensure travellers from Melbourne don’t turn up. All beaches on Phillip Island and in the South Gippsland Shire will be closed from midnight Thursday until Easter Monday.
Councils are deciding on the closures of their beaches individually. Even on beaches that have been deemed closed, walking or running along the beach, as well as swimming or surfing is often ok. Spending extended time on the beach without participating in exercise is a no-no.
Police are expected to patrol beaches to ensure social-distancing measures are being followed.
Update: Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate this week closed The Spit, Surfer’s Paradise and Coolangatta beaches to everyone. Other beaches in the area remain open for exercise, however only locals may use these beaches.
Similarly to NSW, lifesavers have removed the red and yellow flags from beaches in Queensland to discourage people from gathering between them.
Yet, swimming and surfing are still allowed, as is running or walking on the beach. Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are also still permitted.
However, avoid using public exercise equipment in beachside parks, as their cleanliness is not guaranteed.
Feature photo by @jakedoh