The Northern Beaches Council closed the popular Manly and Dee Why beaches – both in suburbs deemed hotspots for coronavirus last week – ahead of the long weekend. A number of other beaches in the area were subsequently closed due to dangerous swell over the weekend.
But that technical closure meant nothing to the hordes of people gathered at Curl Curl, Freshwater, Manly and Dee Why on Easter Monday, with hundreds of surfers taking on the enormous waves. North Curl Curl local Tully Stack said the beach was far more crowded than usual, even for a public holiday.
“I reckon because Bondi’s shut, all the beaches out there, I reckon everyone is coming in here for the holiday.
“It’s just not on,” he said, adding he surfed frequently at Curl Curl and did not recognise many of the people in the lineup.
Other surfers echoed his claims, telling the Herald there were hundreds of unfamiliar faces waiting to catch waves and the car parks were full of vehicles without the parking permit granted to ratepayers on the northern beaches.
Mr Stack said the influx of surfers crowding the beach made it harder to stay the required 1.5 metres apart from others.
“It’s like you’re at a footy game, you’re all together. Just stay at home,” he said.
Northern Beaches Council did not respond to questions about the beach closures and the influx of surfers over the long weekend.
“To help contain and slow the spread of COVID-19, we all have to work together and that means staying in our homes and our neighbourhoods for the time being,” NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said last week, although the public health order aimed at curtailing the coronavirus pandemic does not specify that people must exercise close to their homes.
NSW Police said on Monday that nobody had been issued a penalty infringement notice in relation to surfing or travelling to a beach to surf.
Sally Rawsthorne is a Crime Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.