The Easter four-day weekend is typically a wonderful time for boating across Australia but 2020 is far from a typical year. Fires, floods and now a pandemic have made this an extraordinary and challenging time.
The Boating Industry Association (BIA) supports government countermeasures to protect Australians from the full impact of this pandemic. This includes wide-ranging and on-going restrictions designed to minimise harm and loss of life in our society while at the same time we are seeking clarity around permissible boating activities.
BIA President Darren Vaux said: "We are working with governments across Australia to keep businesses open, to retain jobs, to provide financial support wherever possible and to help keep industry viable for the certain recovery, however we must recognise that in the short term there are significant restrictions on boating activities in some States that must be complied with or risk even those activities being banned.
"We are also working with national and international partners to make boating part of the solution and recovery from the impact this disease is having on society. Afterall, boating is a healthy outdoor activity; an escape on the water in the fresh air and sunshine which has proven benefits to the body and mind."
Boating will, with time, return to normal. For now, however, we all must follow the public-health advice to contain this highly contagious disease. A guide to that advice follows:
Stay Home. Only go boating if you determine it meets the criteria of essential travel. If you do, only go out boating by observing the Health advice and regulations in your State which may include:
- avoid leaving your home for any non-essential activity and don't invite other people into your home
- stay at home unless you are:
- going to work or education (if you are unable to do so at home)
- getting essential supplies such as food (for example this includes fishing in QLD and NSW) and groceries (return home without delay)
- going out on your own or with one other person or with 'people of the same household going out together'
- for example in QLD and NSW it is permissible to take physical exercise in non-powered craft such as paddling and sailing
- attending medical appointments or compassionate visits
- complying with your legal obligations that includes life safety, environmental protection and property protection associated with your boat.
If you are boating for a legitimate reason in your State, you must:
- keep at least 1.5m apart from people you do not live with which includes no gathering or rafting up
- wash your hands before and after any time there is contact with shared surfaces for example when fuelling or at any other time you come in contact with any hard surface outside the family home
- take the most direct route to the water and only boat locally
- wear a lifejacket, especially if solo
- remember You're the Skipper – You're Responsible
- follow the official advice so boating is seen as part of the solution and recovery, and not a problem to be banned.
The rules around permissible activities are constantly changing and if you are unclear it is better to stay home than risk spreading or catching the disease or getting a fine.
"It is the individual's responsibility to determine if they have a reasonable excuse to be out of their home and we are advised there will be Police and Boating Patrols out over the Easter weekend enforcing the rules," Vaux said.
"We can get through this together and get back to the pastime we love, if we all do our part. For now, we must make the sacrifices required of us in the interests of the broader community."
For more information: www.bia.org.au/