'Keep a towel length between you': new rules for beachgoers this summer

'Keep a towel length between you': new rules for beachgoers this summer

Beachgoers are being urged to "keep a towel length" between them as part of the state government's new COVID-safe summer strategy.

The strategy was outlined at NSW Health's morning conference where it was announced there'd been four new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, bringing the state's total to 4015.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the COVID-safe plan had been formulated with the lessons learnt from the northern hemisphere summer.

"We know we are all going to here together this summer, no-one's going to be going overseas," he said.

"The great news is we're a vast state, with incredible parklands, incredible beaches, there's room for everyone.

"... We can't all go to the same space at same times so the COVID summer safe program is all about trying to inform people about where the best places to go are and when they should go there."

Mr Stokes said there were five pillars of the COVID-safe summer strategy, which would help support the current public health orders, rules and regulations.

The first was to mark out proper social distancing rules in parklands and highly visited public spaces from October; the second was in relation to beaches.

"Keep a towel-length (1.5 metres) from the person next to you - that's the best way you can ensure you're keeping yourself and the people next to you safe," he said.

The third element to the government's plan was to run a series of organised events throughout summer in parklands and public spaces, and the fourth part was to work with businesses to boost outdoor dining.

"We're working with local businesses to maker better use of our high streets, to ensure businesses have the flexibility to spill out onto the street wherever it's safe to do so," Mr Stokes said.

The final pillar was to partner with councils on a 'new local' campaign to showcase alternative public spaces for the community to enjoy.

As part of this, Mr Stokes urged the community to respect the work by council officers, by lifeguards and others dedicated to keeping open spaces safe.

"Our clear message is please respect their instructions - they're there to help you, they're there to keep you safe," he said.

"Our volunteer lifesavers do an incredible job, the best way we can thank them is to follow their reasonable instructions."

Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said the recently established "al fresco taskforce" was assisting businesses keep customers and staff safe.

"It's designed not just to help business open up, but open out," he said. "We want to make sure people enjoy the great outdoors in a COVID-safe way.

"We all know what it means to be sun smart, we now need to learn to be COVID smart."

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said it was known outdoor environments were more COVID-safe than indoor spaces.

"We know outdoor environments are better, that's because they're well ventilated environments, there's also some thought that the UV light might degrade the virus," she said.

"... Yes of course if they've got close contact at beaches it can transmit, but certainly there's less risk than if you're in an indoor environment at home."

Of the four new COVID cases announced today, three were returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine and one was a locally acquired case linked to Concord Hospital.

Meantime a person with a confirmed case reported on Sunday drove a taxi for several days while infectious.

NSW Health is urging people who caught a Silver Service taxi on September 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 in Moorebank, Bankstown, Chipping Norton, Liverpool, Lidcombe, Warwick Farm and Milperra to monitor for symptoms and get tested if any develop.

NSW Health has identified passengers who booked the taxi in this period directly, and they must get tested and isolate for 14 days since they were in the taxi.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there were 7765 tests reported in the 24-hour reporting period, compared with 13,635 in the previous 24 hours.

While it was not unusual for testing numbers to drop off over the weekend, NSW Health would like to see testing levels above 20,000 as achieved last week, particularly in South Western Sydney, and ahead of school holidays.

"It's really important for us to keep our testing rates high ... don't wait for Monday or Tuesday to get tested," Ms Berejiklian said.

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This story 'Keep a towel length between you': new rules for beachgoers this summer first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.


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