Flags down, lifesavers retreat to towers
LIFESAVERS will not have flagged areas for swimmers from Saturday in a bid to keep beachgoers from congregating too close.
Lifesavers will instead retreat to their surf club towers and only provide "surveillance" in a bid to keep volunteers and the public safe from COVID-19.
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"There is no requirement for placement of red and yellow flags on the beach to mark the designated swimming area," SLSQ president Mark Fife and chief executive officer Dave Whimpey said in a statement emailed to members.
"This decision has been made to protect the health and safety of our surf lifesavers and lifeguards, while also seeking to limit the number of people congregating within a confined space between the flags."
"In light of current events, the Board of SLSQ and the State Lifesaving Committee have agreed that all beach patrols and lifeguard services across Queensland will revert to a surveillance service from Saturday, 28 March 2020.
"This decision has been made to protect the health and safety of our surf lifesavers and lifeguards, while also seeking to limit the number of people congregating within a confined space between the flags.
"These are challenging times for us all, and we appreciate the continued support of clubs, branches, and members across Queensland."
SLSQ General Manager of Lifesaving Kaitlyn Akers said despite the changes lifesavers will still be on beaches ready to respond.
"While there will be no flagged designated swimming areas, lifesavers will remain on our beaches on a surveillance patrol," she said.
"Surf lifesavers will continue to be actively advising beachgoers of warnings and performing preventative actions, to ensure beachgoers safety.
"We ask members of the public re-consider their need to visit our beaches and avoid swimming for their own safety."
Ms Akers said the decision was made in the interest of public safety and member welfare.
"This decision has been made in line with the warnings against the congregation of crowds, due to the likelihood of crowds occurring in flagged designated swimming areas on our beaches," she said.
"We encourage the public to follow government direction to stay home and practice social distancing."
Rescue equipment will remain on the beach ready to perform rescues and respond to incidents if required.
All operation support services continue to operate and emergency response groups will remain on standby to respond to any major incidents.
SLSQ will continue to work with the Queensland Government, local councils and health authorities during this time, and will provide updates as the situation continues to develop.
Originally published as Flags down, lifesavers retreat to towers