Will surf life savers wear face masks, gloves this summer?
SURF life savers are starting beach patrols on Saturday, September 26 through to April 21 next year, but this summer they may have to do it wearing face masks and gloves.
The 10 Far North Coast clubs getting ready are Fingal Rovers, Cudgen Hedland, Cabarita Beach, Brunswick Heads, Byron Bay, Lennox Head, Alstonville, Ballina Lighthouse (includes Lismore), Evans Head (includes Casino) and Yamba.
Together, there are more than 6000 people, including life members, volunteers and nippers, from ages 5 to 90-plus.
Far North Coast Branch administration officer, Sam Clutterbuck, said the club's operations this season will be a bit different.
"Surf Life Saving NSW has supplied every club with PPE - gloves, masks, hand sanitiser, COVID co-ordinator hi-vis vests and other stuff," he said.
"When they go out there to patrol, they will have the equipment they need to do their job successfully.
"We will still be making sure people swim between the flags and that, whatever we do, we are protecting ourselves while providing a service to the public."
Mr Clutterbuck said volunteers may need to wear PPE at times.
"Whenever our members are doing first aid or in contact with people, they will be wearing masks, but on patrol it's optional," he explained.
"They could also be wearing gloves, it all comes down whether they had time to put them on before they do a rescue."
The clubs will not be policing people at the beach observing COVID restrictions and safe distancing. This aspect will remain police's responsibility, the club's spokesman said.
"We already have a big enough job monitoring the waterways," he said.
Mr Clutterbuck said there will be changes to other areas of the clubs operate to allow for extra safety in regards to the number for people at the beach, particularly with nippers.
"Each club has a COVID-Safety plan, but we may have different groups of nippers starting at different times, staggering their presence at the beach through the day, just to spread it out, rather than having hundreds of kids in one space at one time," he said.
"The maximum number is 500 people at the beach for a sporting event or carnival so we are just trying to minimise the risk and adhere to all restrictions."