Port Macquarie lifeguard supervisor James Turnham reminds beachgoers of new gathering numbers

Ready to go: Port Macquarie lifeguard supervisor James Turnham says beachgoers should be aware of new gathering regulations for the upcoming beach season.
Ready to go: Port Macquarie lifeguard supervisor James Turnham says beachgoers should be aware of new gathering regulations for the upcoming beach season.

Port Macquarie lifeguard supervisor James Turnham is looking forward to a successful summer beach season.

Lifeguard and volunteer lifesaving patrols will kick off on the last weekend of September.

Mr Turnham said beachgoers needed to be aware of the recent NSW public health orders.

"The public health order for beaches means that group gatherings must be less than 20 people," he said.

"As well, lifeguards will be providing patients with the items needed to treat themselves for minor first aid, where possible."

Those changes are part of the COVID safety plans being implemented by lifeguarding services and volunteer surf lifesavers.

Surf Life Saving NSW has released its COVID safety plan while the Australian Lifeguard Service's plan should be finalised in the very near future.

Mr Turnham said lifeguards will be put through the paces for their annual proficiency on September 12 while lifesavers will update their skills during regular patrols.

"ALS is currently finalising out COVID safety plan and that will be ready for the start of the season," Mr Turnham said.

"We are not expecting there to be any major changes in how we patrol on the beach for this year.

"At the end of last season, lifeguards were monitoring beach numbers but I am not aware of those regulations being in place (for the coming season) just yet.

"Obviously that could change," he said.

At the end of last season, lifeguards were monitoring beach numbers but I am not aware of those regulations being in place (for the coming season) just yet.

James Turnham

"That will be a matter for NSW Health and the government to impose any further regulations."

Mid North Coast branch president Rod McDonagh said volunteer patrols' priority was to get back on the beach.

He said nothing had changed for clubs in regards to capabilities or how they respond to situations at their local beaches.

"All clubs across the branch have received information on how to implement our safety plans," he said.

"Our priority is to get back on the beach and provide the same level of service to the public.

"We will structure our patrols and patrolling numbers according to health requirements but we will have that message reinforced closer to patrols starting," he said.

Mr McDonagh said the surf lifesaving movement will look closely at the various areas of its organisation to ensure it meets COVID responsibilities.

This includes, how competitions are run and organised, how training is conducted for members and how proficiency testing could be managed.

Mr Turnham says that beachgoers need to aware of their surroundings when visiting a local beach.

He said lifeguards and volunteer lifesavers will continue with messaging including, maintaining good hygiene, wearing face masks when providing first aid treatment and continue to social distance.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council says strategically placed signage at beaches will help reinforce the social distancing message.

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Mr Turnham said he was looking forward to a really good season at all local beaches

"Particularly after the year that we have been through," he said.

"The weather forecast has indicated that we could experience some wet conditions although September is expected to be hot.

"Whatever the conditions, lifeguards and volunteer lifesavers are ready for the new season.

"We are again expecting bigger beach crowds at Town and Flynns beaches."

The lifeguard supervisor reinforced the need to, swim between the flags when patrols are operational, swim at patrolled beaches and to always think about your ability before entering the water.

"And when lifeguards or lifesavers are on duty, always approach them if you are unsure of anything," he added.

Flags go up at local beaches on September 26.

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