Photo by Merimbula Visitor Information Centre: Bar Beach, Merimbula during the summer of 2020
Tuesday, 14 April 2020
Following concerns raised by the local community and officers from South Coast Police District, the car park at Bar Beach, Merimbula is now closed to the public.
While the number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus/COVID-19 in the Bega Valley remains stable at nine, Bar Beach has been identified as a place where the community wide health advice tied to the crises could be jeopardised.
Over the long weekend concerns raised by residents and patrols by police identified localised risk factors.
“My officers spoke to a number of people at Bar Beach over the Easter break, reinforcing the government’s directive around physical distancing, the size of gatherings and the need to stay at home,” Chief Inspector Peter Volf says.
“In most other locations across the Bega Valley people have done the right thing and listened to the health advice, but the restricted space of Bar Beach and the stubborn attitude of a few people means we need to take action.”
The decision was endorsed at this morning’s meeting of the Bega Valley Local Emergency Management Committee. The committee has been meeting weekly and is made up of a range of response agencies including Bega Valley Shire Council, NSW Health, NSW Police, NSW Disaster Welfare.
“Our staff are deploying signage at Bar Beach to notify the public of the car park closure,” says Anthony McMahon, Council’s Local Emergency Management Officer.
“Access to all our other beaches remains open so that people can stay physically and mentally healthy during this challenging time, but we still need to remember the health advice.”
Chief Inspector Volf says people are allowed out of their homes to exercise for short periods.
“We ask that people maintain the rules around staying 1.5 metres apart and not gathering in groups larger than two, unless it’s your immediate family,” he says.
“There is no excuse for not knowing the advice and while I appreciate the stresses and frustrations around life right now we are not out of the woods yet.
“We can’t risk a break out of this virus and the behaviour my officers’ witnessed over the weekend at Bar Beach is a threat to the wider community. We needed to draw a line in the sand.”
Surfers and swimmers can still access the water via Main Beach and Mitchies Jetty, Pambula Beach and Short Point are also near by beaches open for health and wellbeing.
“Bar Beach will remain closed for the rest of the school holidays,” Mr McMahon says.
“And given the cooperation we’ve seen at most other Sapphire Coast beaches we don’t see a need to take action elsewhere.”
Police patrols of popular locations are ongoing, officers will be talking to members of the public to share advice and answer questions.