Piha Beach goes without regular lifeguards over Covid fears

Source: 1News

Piha Beach has gone without regular lifeguards over Covid fears as the traditional surf life saving season opened.

The club at South Piha, near Auckland, says Covid restrictions mean its members are unable to do their jobs safely.

“Concerns around public health, the wellbeing of the membership, having them not being nervous or worrying about their position when going out on patrol - we don't want that for any of our volunteers. I suppose there's enough to worry about with the job at hand,” Northern Surf Lifesaving chief executive Matt Williams said.

At this stage, Piha is the only club to take on the position.

They're worried Alert Level 3 only allows up to 10 guards on duty when on a busy day, around 20 may be needed.

Not everyone in the Piha community is happy with the decision, however, with some concerned about the risks ahead for beach users without regular patrols.

A Piha local of 12 years, Willie, has labelled the move “a dangerous decision”.

“Not having a patrol on just opens up to potential drownings which, you know, I feel will happen unless they can't get out and patrol our beaches,” he said.

The life savers regional body is backing South Piha.

“Our lifeguards are important to us and so's their wellbeing and this is a call they've made around their wellbeing and we'll support them in that,” Williams said.

He said he will talk to South Piha about getting patrols back on the beach next week.

“Without them there, that beach is more dangerous than it would otherwise be,” he said.

“That's why we've informed the public we don't recommend them swimming there.”

In the meantime, guards from nearby North Piha will visit roughly every hour.