The Easter holidays are almost here. It should be a great time to launch your boat into the waters, right? Well, not so fast. If you are a recreational boater or angler, then the new Federal Government restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic applies to you.
What are the new restrictions?
Late March the new boating restrictions took effect, prohibiting any boating and fishing activities for leisure. This is a part of the government’s response to the increasing number of coronavirus cases in Australia. This is a containment strategy to keep the virus from spreading further.
According to Federal Authorities, the restrictions aim to protect not only the community but also the marine rescuers. Current rescue services include a big number of elderly volunteers who are more vulnerable and at greater risk of getting infected by the virus.
Now the new restrictions are in place, only boating for “essential purposes” like buying supplies, providing for families, fishing for food, and travelling to work are allowed. However, the “no gathering of more than two persons” guideline still applies, as well as the social distancing rule.
Which states are affected?
As of this article’s publication (April 8), it is confirmed that all states and territories are under the new boating restrictions due to the COVID-19 virus. Although, the interpretation and implementation vary per state. For instance, some states (Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania) consider activities like kayaking, sailing, and paddleboarding as exercise. Therefore, they are essential and still allowed to be done amid the new restrictions.
On the other hand, Victoria has a stricter rule in following the restrictions. As of 30th March 2020, Victorians can only leave their homes for four reasons: for food and supplies, for medical care, for work and education, and exercise. This stringent rule came into effect after the state government declared the Stage 3 restrictions.
The state now forbids all types of recreational boating, even the ones that the other states consider as exercise. According to the state government, exercise is “a walk around the block or a bike ride to stretch your legs and get some fresh air”. All types of recreational boating do not fall under this description. So, boaters are encouraged to stay home and help prevent total confirmed cases in Victoria from increasing.
New South Wales’ confirmed COVID-19 cases have now risen to 2,734 as of April 6. Yet, the state is still somewhere in the middle when it comes to recreational boating. There is no ruling that directly bans boating in the state, and you can still do kayaking or paddling if you consider this as exercise. However, the government still strongly advises boat owners against boating unless necessary. If you need to hit the waters, just make sure to always practice social distancing.
In Queensland, there are 934 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of April 7. Still, people are encouraged to continue their lives as normal as possible. You can do recreational boating as exercise, but you are highly advised to stay on your local waters. There should be no more than two persons on a boat and social distancing should be followed. Despite all these, the Chief Health Officer remains resolute that you should stay home unless it’s absolutely necessary to go out on the waters.
What should you do?
Australia has now almost 6,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. All state governments are doing all they can to help flatten the curve and get everything back to normal. As an Australian, you must do your part to help in preventing the spread of coronavirus. Follow the boating restrictions in your respective states. Take your boat out only if allowed and when you do, make sure to follow social distancing directions.
It’s also crucial to ensure your safety on the waters. This will prevent any need for a rescue that will risk you and the rescuers’ health. Keeping yourself safe when boating will help avoid community transmission of coronavirus, so be responsible when out on your boat. But most important of all, only go out when you have to. If not, then heed the federal government’s advice and stay at home.
If you need any more information, please visit the government website.