September 20 - 26, 2020: Issue 467


Promoting COVID-safety on our Beaches this summer: When, why and how beaches may be closed

Council has released a plan to maximise public safety and reduce the risk of COVID-19 in public places during the coming busy holiday period.

The COVID-19 Summer Action Plan for Outdoor Public Spaces supports NSW Public Health Orders and recommendations and provides a framework for how Council will work with NSW Police, Surf Lifesaving and other authorities over summer.

It details proactive measures Council will implement including:
  • establishing a Beach Safety Working Group with key stakeholders to deliver a coordinated response;
  • activating additional flagged areas to reduce crowd density;
  • increasing cleansing of public places;
  • monitoring by rangers and lifeguards with reminders of social distancing and crowd gathering restrictions;
  • ongoing review of parking restrictions;
  • regular and consistent communication through onsite signage, website, lifeguard announcements and other digital and social channels.
The Plan also details how Council will apply a staged response based on actual and forecasted crowd levels at beaches, considering crowd densities calculated for each beach when social distancing restrictions are applied.

Council will work with Surf Life Saving NSW to progress the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones, to provide aerial vision and surveillance to help monitor crowd capacity at beaches.  

Council will apply a staged response based on actual and forecasted occupancy of public spaces:
  • Stage One - Low to high crowd density (0 - 75% capacity) - Count 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm. Record numbers -Physical distancing messaging as required (50 - 75% hourly).
  • Stage Two - High to very high crowd density (75% - 90% + capacity) - Count every 1 hour or as necessary. Record numbers. Beach nearing capacity - increase in frequency of announcements.  Crowd control Lifeguard / Lifesavers / Rangers / to respond to crowd density management in consultation with Police. Prepare to close carparks. Exit only.
  • Stage Three - Very high to full crowd density (90% - 100% capacity). Beach closures. Closure of beach: Lifeguard / Lifesavers / Rangers / to manage closure of the beaches with assistance from NSW Police. Close entry to carparks. Exit only.
Council will also action options to restrict beach parking to reduce crowd numbers  and review options to change pay and display machines limiting parking times. Council, in conjunction with SLSCs, will review each patrolled beach and put in place parking options for Volunteer Lifesavers to ensure continuity of the lifesaving service.

Rockpools are to be monitored and managed based on prevailing NSW Health restrictions and appropriate social distancing guidelines. Swimming Clubs are required to have a COVID Safety plan and therefore are not subject to the requirements of this plan, however, physical distancing requirements will apply. 

Skate parks, open spaces, parks and reserves will be monitored and managed based on current NSW Health restrictions and recommendations

Mayor Michael Regan said being COVID-safe this summer was a shared responsibility.

“We really want to keep our beaches, parks, playgrounds and pools open so people can enjoy them to full this summer,” Mayor Regan said.

“But the threat of COVID-19 is still very real and we all need to remember this when we are out and about this summer.

“If you get to a public place and it looks uncomfortably busy, it might be a good idea to try somewhere else, or try again later.

“We’ll be working with Police and Surf Lifesaving to do all we can to protect the health of everyone. We also need the cooperation of community so we can all have a great summer.”

You can read the Plan in full from the link below.

The Northern Beaches COVID-19 Summer Action Plan for Outdoor Public Spaces is available at:
Escalation processes
  • Staff/volunteer safety issue:  Contact Police immediately.
  • Outdoor area nearing capacity:  Contact Incident Controller immediately. Lifeguards to escalate to Rangers. Incident Controller to contact Police immediately.
  • Groups exceeding 20 pax on beaches: Lifeguards to escalate to Rangers to speak to group.
  • Groups exceeding 20 pax in other public spaces: Rangers to speak to group.
  • Groups exceeding 20 pax refusing to move on:  Ranger to contact Ranger Coordinator. Ranger Coordinator to contact Incident Controller. Incident Controller to contact Police.
  • Weather forecast response:  If weather is conducive to attract large crowds, plan to initiate Stage 2 response well in advance. Contact Transport Manager and Police.
  • Events: If known event in place and likely to attract larger crowds, plan to initiate Stage 2 response at start of day. Contact Transport Manager and Police.

Beach crowd capacity model

Council’s assessment of beach capacity thresholds took into consideration social distancing restrictions based on prevailing NSW Health Orders and recommendations. The methodology calculated the available usable sand space, which was assessed on approximately 125m to 150m either side of the flags and the width of the beach.  Should circumstances arise whereby beach conditions change, for example beach erosion, reassessment of beach crowd thresholds will be undertaken.

The crowd capacity of our beaches is as follows:

Beaches                      Available metres squared of USABLE sand in designated patrol areas  Estimated crowd threshold at high tide  Estimated crowd threshold at low tide
North Palm                                                        14,118                                                                                1,000                                                           2,000
Palm                                                                  43,991                                                                                3,500                                                           6,000
Whale                                                                32,807                                                                                3,000                                                           4,000
Avalon                                                               29,217                                                                                2,500                                                            3,500
Bilgola                                                               48,878                                                                                3,000                                                            5,000
Newport                                                            22,377                                                                                 2,000                                                            3,000
Bungan                                                             17,252                                                                                 1,500                                                            2,500
Mona Vale                                                         51,126                                                                                 4,000                                                           6,000
Warriewood                                                       36,604                                                                                 2,500                                                           4,000
North Narrabeen                                               33,492                                                                                 3,000                                                           4,000
Birdwood Park                                                     3,708                                                                                    200                                                           1,000
Narrabeen                                                         22,463                                                                                 2,000                                                           3,000
Collaroy                                                             14,598                                                                                 1,200                                                           2,000
Long Reef                                                          41,643                                                                                 4,000                                                           5,000
Dee Why                                                            28,370                                                                                 2,500                                                          3,500
North Curl Curl                                                   31,302                                                                                 2,500                                                          3,500
South Curl Curl                                                  18,635                                                                                 1,500                                                           2,000
Freshwater                                                         36,159                                                                                 3,000                                                           4,000
Queenscliff                                                         18,139                                                                                 1,500                                                           2,500
North Steyne                                                      14,388                                                                                 1,200                                                           2,500
Manly                                                                 29,638                                                                                  2,500                                                           4,000
Shelley                                                                 7,257                                                                                     500                                                           1,500
Little Manly                                                          4,184                                                                                      300                                                              700