SURF Life Saving NSW has announced the end of the patrol season will be brought forward by four weeks.
The Board of Surf Life Saving NSW has decided effective immediately, all patrols by volunteer surf lifesavers on NSW beaches will be cancelled for the remainder of the season.
The unprecedented decision was made to protect the safety and welfare of volunteer surf lifesavers from potential infection by the COVID-19 virus and to discourage large gatherings of people on popular beaches.
In place of beach patrols by surf lifesavers, enhanced Support Operations including jet skis and rescue boats will provide a roving presence, emergency callout teams will be on standby to response, complemented by surveillance patrols using drones.
"Our number one priority is ensuring the safety and welfare of our volunteer members," Surf Life Saving Mid North Coast President, Rod McDonagh, said.
"It was becoming increasingly difficult for us to continue beach patrols while at the same time implement the necessary social distancing measures to protect surf lifesavers from the risk of COVID-19 infection.
"I support the initiative to cease patrols made by the NSW Government and Surf Lifesaving NSW. Our eight surf clubs, from Macksville-Scotts Head to Camden Have will still respond to any incidents if required."
It is hoped the decision to withdraw patrols will also support Government attempts to reduce contact between people to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
"With the cancellation of patrols, we're urging members of the public to remain vigilant and to look out for each other and to call Triple Zero if they see someone in distress in the water," McDonagh said.
George Shales, President SLSNSW stressed that although beach patrols were cancelled, emergency response callout teams would remain on duty and could be tasked by Emergency Services to provide assistance.
"Our Support Operations teams will remain on duty along the NSW coastline and will continue to work alongside other emergency service organisations such as NSW Police, Ambulance and Marine Rescue if there's an incident requiring our response," he said.
Surf Life Saving NSW will also continue UAV (drone) surveillance operations, with UAV pilots monitoring beach conditions, marine creature activity and assisting with search and rescue operations.
SLSNSW UAV operators can work alone, adhering to social distancing guidelines, while providing effective beach and coastal surveillance.
A friendly reminder to please be careful - particularly during the school holiday period when more children are on the beach.
Remember that volunteer surf lifesavers will not be present on the beach to protect you and keep you safe as they usually are.
Members of the public are urged to think twice before heading to the beach.
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