PORT Macquarie Surf Life Saving Club president Rick Rolff knew the time was coming when the flags came down for the season, it was just a matter of when.
That time came on March 27 when Surf Life Saving NSW announced that all volunteer beach patrols would cease four weeks ahead of schedule, effective immediately.
In place of beach patrols by surf lifesavers, enhanced support operations including jetskis and rescue boats will provide a roving presence.
Emergency callout teams will be on standby to response, complemented by surveillance patrols using drones.
"That finishes our season as patrolling members and we have to fall in line with medical opinions and go with the flow with this virus," Rolff said.
"We can't afford to put any of our members at risk because of what's happening, so I'd agree with what they're doing; it's the safe way to go."
That finishes our season as patrolling members and we have to fall in line with medical opinions and go with the flow with this virus.Port Macquarie Surf Life Saving Club president Rick Rolff
Rolff was hopeful such a decision would minimise the amount of people venturing into the water.
"If someone goes out there, gets in trouble and we have to save them ... as soon as someone gets this virus, it impacts on hundreds of people," he said.
It is hoped the decision to withdraw patrols will also support government attempts to reduce contact between people in order to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
"We had to postpone our nipper presentation which I felt was justified and we'll probably have to postpone the seniors as well," Rolff said.
Wauchope-Bonny Hills Surf Life Saving Club president Ian Latham said their club was also complying with the advice coming from NSW Surf Life Saving.
"In the context of COVID-19 we want to ensure the safety and welfare of our members," he said.
"(Taking the flags down) discourages the congregation of individuals at the beach who would see flags up and think it was okay to swim."
It's been a crazy season for the surf clubs all up and down the coast.Wauchope-Bonny Hills Surf Life Saving club president Ian Latham
Latham said an end to the season four weeks ahead of schedule perfectly summed up the season.
"It's been a crazy season for the surf clubs all up and down the coast," he said.
"People are only just starting to emerge from the bushfires and now we will comply with what our governing body says.
"That way we stand a chance of stemming the spread of the virus and we'll emerge at the other end.
"We will update people with what we're going to do with things like presentations when we have a clearer picture."
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