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Why surfers are breaking lockdown

Hugo Cameron
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Magnet Bay, Christchurch, shortly before lockdown  Metronews

Some keen surfers continue to breach lockdown rules - why are they taking the risk?

The Government has explicitly banned surfing under alert level 4 and police have been patrolling beaches.

Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said this was to avoid unnecessary strain on emergency services and speed up the move out of level 4.

Piha surfer Issac has been out despite this, to get a fix of what he says is his primary form of exercise.

"It's pretty important for maintaining my peace of mind and getting some good exercise," he said.

"As far as the high risk argument goes, I don't agree with that

"That hasn't been reflected over other sports such as cycling... surfing's fairly low risk in comparison to heaps of other activities that are still allowed over lockdown," Issac said.

He felt the risk of spreading COVID-19 while surfing was low, as it was hard to get closer than two metres to others while out in the water.

Issac went for a surf on the first day of lockdown, despite being warned by older locals that authorities were patrolling.

He said he was out with the surfer photographed making obscene gestures at a Stuff cameraman while being confronted by police.

David White/Stuff

"It's kind of maintaining my sanity when you're locked up in the same place for four weeks," Issac said.

"I'm probably going to go out today, it's looking pretty good."

He said he was looking forward to surfing legally under alert level 3.

Christchurch surfer Samuel refrained from going out during lockdown, mostly due to concern for his flatmates.

"I wanted to keep them out of harm's way, I didn't want to risk them getting corona because I went surfing," he said.

Samuel said he thought surfing in lockdown was acceptable if done safely.

However, he said surfers shouldn't put more pressure on emergency services during alert level 4.

"New surfers going surfing in lockdown I would highly not recommend," he said.

"I think if you're starting out with any sport and you'll have to have the ambulance called it's a problem.

"If you've got ability in any sport the risk is low," he said.

He was glad his flatmates convinced him to stay out of the water.

"It's highly likely that if I did go surfing and treated it as normal I would've been busted."


- Stuff image republished with permission.