Author: Catrin Owen

Surfers are ignoring further advice to stay out of the water during the coronavirus lockdown, with many seen riding the waves at some of Auckland's surf breaks on Sunday.

On Saturday night, new rules were set out in a Health Notice issued by the Director General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

He made it clear recreation and exercise under Alert Level 4, does not involve swimming and water-based activities such as surfing or boating as that could expose participants to danger or may require the help of search and rescue services.

On Sunday morning, Muriwai local and AUT University Journalism lecturer Richard Pamatatau​ spotted about eight people out in the surf while he was out for his walk.

Police order surfers out of the water at North Piha Beach amid the coronavirus lockdown.

"This morning there were two people out in the surf on the main beach and another six at Māori Bay, and people in the sand dunes with their boards," he said.

While he understood there was a section of the surfing community who wanted to get out into the surf because it was particularly good at the moment, they shouldn't, Pamatatau said.

"I'm not sure that everybody knows that this is the new way of being and surfing isn't allowed," he said.

"The broader issue is that these surfers are preying on the good nature of those who are adhering to the rules.

"They're taking advantage of every other New Zealander who is staying at home to help protect the health and economy."

A surfer is not happy to be spoken to by police for flouting lockdown rules at a West Auckland beach.

He said the surfers were not only a potential vector for Covid-19, but if they were to have an accident it would put pressure on the already busy health system.

"It's time for New Zealanders to really think about their behaviour ... the more people who flout the rules, the longer we'll be in lockdown."

Further down the West coast at Piha, another local said she spotted between eight to 10 surfers out in the ocean on Sunday morning.

Later on Saturday, a Stuff photographer at Piha Beach said police patrolling the area had ordered two remaining surfers from the water.

Alert 2

He said officers spent about 10 minutes trying to get the surfers' attention before they eventually came in and were told to leave.

A police spokesman said officers spoke to about a dozen surfers that were out on the water and advised them of the Alert level 4 restrictions.

"Our focus is to engage with and educate those not adhering to the current requirements. 

Police patrol Piha Beach in West Auckland where surfers are continuing to flout lockdown rules stating they should stay out of the water,

"We urge people to take the requirements seriously and not to flout the Alert level 4 restrictions. These restrictions include activity on the water, including swimming, fishing or surfing."

The spokesman added other media reports that people were issued with tickets by officers were not true.

There had previously been some confusion around whether or not surfing was allowed during the lockdown.

When the country moved to Alert Level 4 on March 26, Christchurch police gave information to surfers but did not give out any warnings or lay charges.

In Raglan, where the local boardriders' club asked people not to surf, police were asking surfers how they got to the beach.

Sumner surfer Josh Newsome-White, 30, previously told Stuff he and his mates would not be hitting the beaches during the lockdown period.

"It's so easy to do something where you can hurt yourself [while surfing] and that means you're just bringing other people again into that bubble. Just stay at home.".

Note from Nighthawk.NZ:

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