Manning-Great Lakes Police District Commander Superintendent, Shane Cribb, has addressed public confusion regarding the closure of beaches in the Mid Coast local government area (LGA).
At a press conference at Forster Police Station this morning, April 8, Superintendent Cribb said all beaches across the LGA were closed but people were still permitted to exercise as long as they adhered to the rules of the public health order.
"If you want to go on the beaches and exercise, and you stay in groups of two, you maintain your distances, then you are permitted to go on the beaches and exercise," he said.
"You will not be issued any infringement notice, and I can assure the public of that, as long as you comply with those orders."
Superintendent Cribb said police would be present on the beaches and foreshores, but no infringement notices would be issued without prior warning.
"It's about working with the community, warning the people to move on and not breach the orders first," he said.
"No one is going to get an infringement unless they've been spoken to and it's been explained to them and if they want to disobey, then rest assured we will be issuing infringements."
Superintendent Cribb said the closures had been enforced to protect the local community and to discourage tourists from visiting the area while the coronavirus continued to pose a significant health risk.
"We're a hotspot, we've been identified as a hotspot, and I would encourage our local community to report people who are in the community that shouldn't be here," he said.
"I make it quite clear, there's no room for tourists at the moment. We have people now already here saying they've got holiday houses.
"You're not allowed to come to your holiday house. It's as simple as that."
But while Superintendent Cribb was quick to discourage visitors, he also urged the local community to play by the rules.
"Last weekend there were numerous breaches of the public health order on beaches in this area," he said.
"I cannot afford to have that again this weekend."
Superintendent Cribb said police would be the only authority issuing infringement notices in relation to the beach closures and that all officers in the district would be on the same page.
"The police here are briefed daily," he said.
"I've got senior police who will review any breaches, so if anyone's breached and there's an infringement issued, myself or my senior police will review those infringements."
Superintendent Cribb said the beach closures would be reviewed by MidCoast Council and would be withdrawn or extended at their discretion.
At present they will be in place until the end of the school holiday period.
For any inquiries regarding the coronavirus or to report an individual who you believe is not adhering to the public health order, please call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.
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