Rumours have been swirling for days that Britain was heading for lockdown.
If your mate (whose girlfriend’s mum is apparently friends with someone high up in MOD) was to be believed, soldiers would soon be patrolling the beaches and police drones buzzing overhead.
Thankfully, the government’s latest announcement stopped a little short of that, but it was none the less really really serious. Now, citizens are only allowed to leave their houses for buying necessities, for one form of exercise a day, or to travel to and from essential work.
But what does this mean for surfing? Can we still go? And more importantly, should we?
To anyone who does not live close to the coast, the advice is unequivocal; don’t travel to the coast. We certainly feel for landlocked surf lovers, finally free from the shackles of work, unable to spend their downtime doing the thing they love. But the sad reality is that coastal communities in the UK simply don’t have the resources to deal with the influx of sick people tourists would inevitably bring. No surf trip is worth putting lives at risk.
But what about if you can walk to the beach? Is it sensible and ethical for you to paddle out?
The main bit of government advice is to stay at home. That means don’t leave your house for socialising, leisure or sport.
However, some are questioning whether surfing could count as their one bit of allowed daily exercise and as long as they haven’t got symptoms, haven’t been around anyone with them and aren’t in a vulnerable group, we can’t currently see a reason why it couldn’t.
What has been made crystal clear is that you can’t congregate in groups, either on land or in the sea, so you’re only allowed to surf if you can guarantee you’ll be a good distance from all other surfers. This, of course, poses its own set of risks. It’s up to each of us individually to weigh these up and seriously question whether it’s worth it. The last thing anyone wants at the moment is to take up valuable public surfing resources on something as trivial as a surfing injury.
UPDATE 3/04: According to Cornwall Live, the county’s chief police commander has stated that surfing is not banned, as it counts as a form of exercise.
“If people want to surf alone, that may be fine – but again, people need to recognise that lifeguards are no longer at our beaches,” he added.
“They need to balance all these factors – as we’ll have to – about what is safe for themselves, what trouble they may get into and what pressure they may put on the NHS and other emergency services if they get into trouble while alone on the water.”
If you do decide to take on the responsibility, make sure to give all surfers, joggers and dogs a very wide berth at all times. When you’re finished your shred, walk straight home.
As a general rule, if at any point you see the white’s of another human’s eyes, you’ve gone wrong somewhere.
There has been some confusion in the wake of the previous update, leading Devon & Cornwall Police to publish the following on their website’s Coronavirus FAQ section by way of clarification:
“Can I go surfing for my daily exercise?
You should not be driving to the beach to go surfing.
The RNLI has stated that as there are no lifeguards on our region’s beaches it is not recommended that you exercise in the sea. Our emergency services are already stretched and should a lifeboat crew be called to an incident in the water, it would put unnecessary pressure on our volunteers and other front line services being exposed to COVID-19 (coronavirus).”
Since this article was originally published, the founder and director of Wavelength Media has issued a statement encouraging our readers not to go surfing. You can read it here.