What you can and can’t do on the water during the coronavirus lockdown.
While governments and police have tried to make the rules regarding lockdown and staying at home as clear as possible, there are always situations that are a little more difficult.
When it comes to activities that you are still allowed to undertake in the outdoors, these become even trickier, particularly if you own a boat.
Boaters are passionate about their lifestyle and believe that many aspects of it can be carried out safely in compliance with social distancing requirements.
It is important to note the rules vary from state to state and the boating community needs to take the time to check the restrictions and requirements that apply for their particular jurisdiction.
In New South Wales and Queensland there have been clarifications and amendments to government guidelines to include restricted use of boating for limited activities such as gathering food or exercise. Any such boating activity must meet the essential or reasonable excuse criteria set out by the relevant state agency.
Queensland and Western Australia have loosened their COVID-19 restrictions with regard to recreational boating.
The Boating Industry Association (BIA) is asking the boating community that, where permitted, boaters be safe and responsible, only use your boat on your local waters, restrict the time you spend on the water and only to the extent and for the purposes permitted by government agencies.
Darren Vaux, president of the Boating Industry Association said: “In recent days there have been clarifications to some forms of permissible boating activity. We completely understand that boaters and boating businesses are keen to return to normal boating activity and that, in a lot of instances, boating can be conducted safely in isolation.
“However, we are asking industry and boaters alike to be sensible and sensitive to the core message of ‘stay at home’ unless absolutely necessary for your safety and that of the broader community, and adhere strictly to the government requirements and criteria.
“Nobody wants to see crowded boat ramps, wharves and waterways as this would, in the bigger picture, possibly lead to further restrictions.
"Recreational boating out in the fresh air and sunshine is good for mental and physical health and is a low-risk activity.
“Governments recognise that getting out on the water is a way of life for many Australians and it is estimated more than 20 per cent of all Australians engage in some form of boating activity annually.
“It was good to see Queensland enable households to travel 50km from home for recreational boating, especially as 85 per cent of the population live within 50km of the coast. This adds to the existing permitted uses of fishing, paddle and sail craft in that state for exercise.
“In WA, the state government has also said, based on health advice, they can cautiously relax the number for indoor and outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 10 people, while practising social distancing.
“Reactivating a low-risk activity like boating will start to repair the boating industry which is closely aligned to tourism and is hurting with staff layoffs and business closures as a result of COVID-19.”
The BIA would like to remind boaters to observe the social distancing and hygiene requirements at all times, which for boating, where permitted, include:
- only for individuals and ‘people of the same household going out together’
- no gatherings of more than two people
- apply social distancing from people you do not live with
- wash hands before and after any time there is contact with shared surfaces at the boat ramp, when fuelling or at any other time you come in contact with any surface outside your family home
- take the most direct route to the water and only boat locally
Do you own a boat? Have you been boating since the lockdown?
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