Skip to main content

Volunteer surf lifesavers and paid lifeguards remain out in force on beaches across NSW to ensure public safety and prevent drowning or injuries from occurring during the current COVID-19 crisis.

While many people are in lockdown, public gatherings have been banned and workplaces are increasingly empty, the beach has become one of the few places people feel comfortable spending time. Larger than usual numbers of people have been observed on many beaches, particularly school students and parents with young children who are choosing to avoid schools and pre-school environments due to the threat from the virus.

Surf Life Saving NSW is supporting the state’s 20,000 active volunteer lifesavers from 129 clubs to continue to patrol beaches through until the end of April, if at all possible.

“With warmer weather predicted and Easter and school holidays looming, we are concerned that drownings may occur if we were to wind back significantly on patrols,” said Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steve Pearce.

“The health and wellbeing of our members and volunteers is obviously paramount and we don’t want to put them at risk so we have asked surf life saving clubs to reduce patrol numbers if they need to and allow any lifesaver who has difficulty fulfilling their patrol duties or is caring for others to be excused from patrol.

“We have also issued advice to members to stay away from their clubs or patrols if they feel at all unwell and to observe the testing and self-isolating advice we’ve received from the government,” said Steve Pearce.

The risk of drowning and other emergencies along the coast is very real from now until the end of the patrol season and surf lifesavers and lifeguards are being urged to remain vigilant, despite the global epidemic.

“On average between now and the end of April, at least five people drown along the NSW coast and another 650 are rescued,” said Steve Pearce. “I hate to think what would happen if our lifesavers were not there protecting people and saving lives on our beaches.”

Emergency callout teams from clubs and Branch Duty Officers will also remain on standby to respond to coastal incidents if required outside patrol hours or at unpatrolled locations.

The fallout and escalating threat from the COVID-19 virus has reached into every element of society and Surf Life Saving is no exception.

“This crisis has, and will continue, to affect us all and I want to thank our volunteers who are putting the safety of others above their own personal concerns and hardships. The community deeply appreciates and supports their commitment and service at this terrible time.”

With the restrictions on gatherings and events, Surf Life Saving NSW has advised clubs to consider postponing or cancelling Nippers activities, training courses and club social events to limit the contact between club members for the time being.

Due to the restrictions on gatherings, most Surf Life Saving sports events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future, including the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships on the Gold Coast in April.

Joining volunteer lifesavers on the beaches, the Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) will have paid lifeguards on patrol at beaches throughout the state on weekdays and during the school holidays.

ALS services currently operate during the week in the following locations:

  • Tweed

  • Byron

  • Ballina

  • Port Macquarie

  • Port Stephens

  • Sydney Northern Beaches

During the school holiday/Easter period the ALS will patrol at the following locations:

  • Tweed

  • Byron

  • Ballina

  • Richmond Valley

  • Clarence Valley

  • Bellingen

  • Kempsey

  • Port Macquarie

  • MidCoast

  • Port Stephens

  • Frazer Park (Munmorah)

  • Northern Beaches

For information about patrol times, weather, and beach locations visit the Beachsafe Website or Download the App.

Since July 1 2019, there have been 33 drowning incidents on the NSW coastline. Eighteen of these have occurred over the summer period (since December 1 2019). 


Friday 20 March 2020