NEW, simpler, rules have been introduced for what can and can’t be done on Mornington Peninsula Shire-managed beaches.
The simplification followed discussions last week to ease “public confusion and establish a consistent approach” between the shire, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Parks Victoria, management committees, and other bayside municipalities.
The mayor Cr Sam Hearn said the result was a “broad alignment” of beach closure rules making them easier to understand.
While peninsula beaches remain closed for public gatherings under coronavirus rules, they can be used as thoroughfares; for exercise, such as walking, running, swimming or surfing, and for dog walking (where this activity is allowed). Social distancing rules still apply.
Cr Hearn said the shire had monitored beach activity over the past week after the Saturday 28 March declaration that all shire-controlled beaches were closed (“Shire closes bay beaches indefinitely” The News 31/3/20).
He said the shire had at that stage followed a directive from the state government and DELWP aimed at stopping the spread of the COVID-19.
“The government’s stay-at-home message still applies for the safety of our whole community, and beach access should be kept short and for exercise purposes only,” Cr Hearn said.
“While we recognise that our beaches need to be an asset supporting our physical and mental health over this time, I must stress that curbing the spread of coronavirus remains a key focus and the message to residents remains the same: please don’t congregate on our beaches.”
Police will patrol beaches to ensure people don’t flout the gathering and social distancing rules.
Boat ramps remain closed for all non-essential activities, such as recreational boating.
“The shire is monitoring the situation every day and will continue to seek advice from the state government, Cr Hearn said.
Former mayor Cr David Gill said: “Confusion was caused by differing beach signs and media statements from the various bodies that control our beaches.
“I have been very concerned about the mixed messages from the council, the government and its departments, including DELWP and Parks Victoria.
“Council even recently put up simple ‘closed’ signs on beaches we don’t control.
“Hopefully, we can stay in alignment and stop any further confusion in this tense situation.”